Stop, Speculate and Listen...

By Douglas Smith

By now you know that the contract between Ilya Kovalchuk and the New Jersey Devils was approved despite the terms not changing all that much. With the initial dispute between the NHL players’ association and the powers that be in the front office of the NHL, there were worries of several other long term contracts becoming null and void.

The latest agreement between the NHLPA and NHL grandfathered in those deals and showed that the two sides could come to a consensus. There is plenty of material out there on this, so let me share a few of those stories with you.

Tom Gulitti - NorthJersey.com
NHLPA - Official Release
Darren Dreger - TSN

There are different takes on what this agreement means other than the fact that a long term contract is now 5 years, which makes sense. On the one hand this can be looked at as an amicable agreement that both sides worked to create and thus showed that they have the ability to work together. The amount of time it took may have seemed like a lot, but in the world of multifaceted, million dollar contracts it was not a very long time from submission of a new contract by the Devils.

On the other hand, this could be seen as a negotiating chip for both sides that only effected a handful of contracts in the NHL. The majority of the players are not going to be seeing the contracts like Kovalchuk or Roberto Luongo, which prompted this negotiation in the first place. There can be a sense that the NHL was attempting to close the loophole and the manner in which it was done was ridiculous.

Nevertheless, this puts more light on the impending negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement that is sure to be a point of contention. Last week at this time it looked as if Donald Fehr would be taking over as executive director of the NHLPA and at this time it still needs to go to a vote. Given Fehr’s influence in keeping the salary cap out of major league baseball, let’s just speculate that this agreement really meant nothing. Fehr is going to battle for everything he can get on the players’ side. Stubborn commissioner Gary Bettman and the NHL team owners could be wary of this and try to fight back immediately regardless of who is doing the negotiating at that time.

So what could happen?

  • NHLPA argues away from a salary cap?
    • Luxury Tax system?
    • How would this affect small market teams already in trouble?
  • NHL argues for more cost certainty?
  • This current agreement allows for easy negotiation?
  • The player representatives vote down Fehr and go with someone that has a less intrusive reputation?

What do you think will happen with the impending collective bargaining agreement?

It is looming, but for now the 2010-11 NHL season is right around the corner. Feel free to focus on that and not on the CBA.


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