CBA position mere NHLPA formality

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:02 AM ET

CALGARY - The next step to a possible NHL work stoppage took place Wednesday when the league served notice to the players association it wants to make changes or terminate the current collective bargaining agreement.

That said, the move was an expected formality.

Either side had to serve notice at least 120 days before the current CBA’s expiration of Sept. 15 or the existing contract — which came on the heels of the lockout which wiped out the 2004-05 season — would automatically kick in for the 2012-13 campaign.

Maybe this will be the impetus needed to begin negotiating a new deal.

To date, there have not been any formal talks between the league and the NHLPA, with none planned until after the conclusion of the Stanley Cup final.

Despite coming up with a deal that saw players give a 24% rollback of their salaries on top of a salary cap based on league revenues, the league reportedly wants to reduce the players’ share from 57% to as low as 50%, which would be in-line with what NBA and NFL players receive.

As well, the league would like to limit the length of contracts.

The impact of a potential work stoppage is already being felt around the league.

The annual Young Stars prospects tournament hosted by the Vancouver Canucks and features up-and-comers representing the Canucks, the Edmonton Oilers, the Winnipeg Jets, the San Jose Sharks and the Calgary Flames in Penticton, B.C., has been postponed.

Drop-dead dates on similar tournaments around the league are being set.

As much as the league wants a CBA with more ‘cost certainty’ (get ready for that buzzword and all the other rhetoric we heard during the winter of ’04), it’s hard to imagine they would be willing to wipe out a full season.

The Stanley Cup playoffs, with a potential final series featuring the Los Angeles Kings and the New York Rangers, are drawing excellent viewership numbers to date south of the border.

Plus the NHL has seen its revenue grow to the point the salary cap for this season was US$64.3 million, up from $39 million in 2005-06.

Unlike the fight of ’04, the players appear much more prepared this time around. New NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr, who guided the Major League Baseball players association for 23 years and through a few labour disputes, including the strike which wiped out the 1994 World Series, has worked diligently to receive input from all the league’s players and wants to build a large negotiating committee.

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