NHL: a contentious agreement


The National Hockey League officially decided yesterday not to withdraw from the current collective agreement. She had until tomorrow to make a head for herself.

Jean-François Tremblay
Jean-François Tremblay
The Press

Specifically, the NHL could have availed itself of its right to notify players one year in advance of the death of the collective agreement, which would have expired on September 15, 2020. The current agreement, signed in 2012 , theoretically ends at the end of the 2021-2022 season.

It was an expected but predictable decision. Informant Darren Dreger of the TSN Network cited as the main reason the progress in negotiations between the League and its players over the summer.

In fact, all the signs pointed to this decision of the NHL. Starting with Gary Bettman's public statements at his "address to the nation" on the sidelines of the Stanley Cup final. These remarks, like all those he has held before, have never stirred the embers of the labor dispute.


Gary Bettman, NHL Commissioner

When we think about the health of sport, how hockey has grown, there are many arguments for peace in labor relations.

Gary Bettman, last June

"The players might like to change a couple of things, Donald Fehr (the representative of the players) could tell you about it, but we could also do the same thing," said the commissioner. We must first think about what is most important. "

In this sense, since the League wants peace, the influential agent Allan Walsh also believes that negotiations should continue under the umbrella of the current collective agreement.

"There are discussions between the NHL and the Players' Association," said Walsh, who met Thursday at Jonathan Drouin's charity tournament. We do not really know what is happening behind closed doors. "

"According to what Gary Bettman publicly hears, he is not looking for trouble this time. So there is a way to agree on a contract without having to miss matches. "

The challenge

By September 15th, it will be up to the players to decide if they want to terminate the employment contract prematurely. However, it is possible that this deadline will be postponed if the file progresses well, according to informant Elliotte Friedman, Sportsnet network. A meeting between the players is also scheduled for next Wednesday in Chicago.

Of course, with over 700 players in the NHL, the opinions diverge. There are the Paul Stastny – who met at Pro-Am Gagné-Bergeron in Quebec City, said: "I do not think we'll get out of it before the time, unless there is a major issue. 'a side. But there will also be another one at this time. We all want to be happy, but it's politics. It's impossible for everyone to be 100% satisfied all the time. It's a relationship where both sides have to make sacrifices. "


Paul Stastny, Vegas Golden Knights

When something goes well, you want it to continue. I believe we are going to sell the 10 years of the collective agreement.

Paul Stastny

There is also Marc-Édouard Vlasic, who is generally more active on major issues. At the heart of the dispute: the famous trust (theescrow in English). Roughly speaking, to ensure equal revenue sharing between players and owners, players pay 15% of their salary in trust. This money comes back to them in a few years, but the sum is often cut. It is used to offset a possible slowdown in the expected rise in revenues.

"Players sign contracts, and then 15% immediately go in trust," said San Jose Sharks defenseman at Athletics. It's not our fault. We are the product, our job is to make sure people watch hockey. It's not our job to balance revenue. Players repeat that they do not like the trust. It's time to put on our panties. "

Peaceful resolution?

In this tense context, it is interesting to return to the words of Mathieu Darche, who was at the heart of the last negotiations. For him, it would be a mistake to reopen the convention. He knows that the players never liked the trust, which reduces, according to his estimate, the wages of 5 or 6%, but that it was a necessary evil in a context of wage ceiling. He had taken advantage of his platform to issue a warning.

"On the homeowner side, sometimes they made a proposal knowing that it would not happen, but maybe they were doing it for the next negotiation," warned Darche, who became the Tampa Bay Lightning's director of hockey operations.


Mathieu Darche, former NHL player turned into Tampa Bay Lightning Hockey Operations Director

If there is another lockout, and I think it would be a mistake on both sides, I predict they will try to go back to five years for contracts and put a cap on bonuses at the same time. signature.

Mathieu Darche

Be that as it may, Walsh adds his voice to the chorus of those who say they are "optimistic" about the possibility of a peaceful resolution. It must be said that the moment would be very bad choice for a fourth conflict under the Bettman era, especially with the arrival of a 32e team in Seattle in 2021.

"If both sides can agree to reduce or eliminate the trust, we will have the framework to agree," said Walsh. I have hope. I trust Don Fehr and the Players Association. They are ready, the players have been well informed. They know what's going on. "

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