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Breaking News: NHL angers players with shocking attempt to renegotiate CBA via deferral of payments

The union held a virtual executive board meeting Wednesday afternoon during which team player reps were informed by union leadership that the league is asking the players to defer an additional 13 to 16 percent of base compensation for the season on top of the 10-percent deferral that was originally negotiated in July.

The request delivered from Gary Bettman to Don Fehr was accompanied by league “liquidity” concerns, according to multiple sources that included one person on the conference call. But the request for additional deferral is not the only concession the NHL is seeking from the players.

Indeed, the parties originally agreed to cap escrow at 20 percent for this upcoming season; between 14 and 18 percent (based on HRR) for 2021-22; at 10 percent for 2022-23; and at 6 percent for each of the final three seasons of the deal.

The NHL is seeking financial concessions in the form of a 13 percent deferral on 2020-21 pay from players as an opening gambit in Return to Play negotiations for the 2020-21 season

It is unclear how the NHLPA, which agreed to a 10 percent deferral in the six-year collective bargaining agreement extension agreed upon by the parties just over four months ago in early July, will respond. Escrow will be capped — and set — at 20 percent for the season.

Four months after negotiating a six-year deal in the midst of this ongoing pandemic that took into account potential economic distress created by the pandemic, the NHL is claiming it cannot live by the deal. It is impossible to cite a precedent in pro sport labor law history. The NHL is asking for a do-over.

While the CBA Memo of Understanding effectively rules out prorating for the season, it does state: “The parties also agree to continue discussions regarding the possibility of allowing Players and Clubs to negotiate additional deferrals on a case-by-case basis.”

That seems kind of odd, doesn’t it?

Some allegedly distressed organization might be permitted to ask its top player to defer money on his own?
But this ask is not that.

This would be uniform and league-wide, if the players defer the additional 13 percent, they would be guaranteed 61.6 percent of their pay for 2020-21, with 23 percent due to be returned at later dates.

If the league remains fixed on a starting date on or around Jan. 1, as still appears to be the case, then movement between the league and the players association is required sometime soon. The league is prepared for a 14-day training camp to precede the regular season, which likely would consist of between 48 and 60 games.

Igor Burdetskiy

Igor Burdetskiy

Founder, Editor-in-Chief, & CEO at Hooked on Hockey Magazine
I grew up playing Ball and Roller Hockey day and night somewhat religiously throughout elementary and middle school. The two don't compare though when I lace up the skates and hit the ice. I live and breathe hockey beyond the perspective of "it's just a game" and I will gladly talk hockey for hours with anyone. Hockey is more than just a lifestyle, it's a culture of passionate people who make memories every time the puck is dropped. Hockey has not only helped me get through some of the hardest times in life but has created some of the best memories to date. Want to talk hockey with me? Shoot me an email: iburdetskiy@hookedonhockey.com and let's talk some hockey!
Igor Burdetskiy
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