Though it won’t officially expire until after the 2021-22 season, the NHL and NHLPA have already begun discussion of a new collective bargaining agreement.
As reported by Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos, Elliotte Friedman and Chris Johnston during Hockey Night in Canada’s Headlines segment Saturday, the two sides have started dialogue with each other because both sides could choose to to opt out of the current CBA come September next year.
CBA discussions always bring nerves over whether both sides can come to an accord before games begin getting missed, either through a lockout or a strike. However, there’s reason for optimism that games won’t be missed because of negotiation.
“I think what we got out of the early talks, in terms of moving forward, is to continue that momentum,” Kypreos said. “If it’s the one positive the fans can take out of this, I think it was abundantly clear that both sides agreed that it’s in the best interests of everyone that they don’t shut down and they find a way to either come up with a new deal or extend it.”
Among the issues the two side will need to resolve will be whether the players want to play in the World Cup in 2020 — something Friedman says won’t happen if there’s any chance a strike or lockout will take place — and, more interestingly, possible playoff expansion.
As reported Saturday, there’s a growing push for the NHL to expand its playoff format with a 32nd team poised to enter the league.
“There’s growing push behind the scenes, there’s certainly teams, that would like to see the NHL expand its playoff format to include a couple more teams from each conference playing a play-in style of game,” Johnston said. “Now this comes, of course, with Seattle set to join the league and have 32 teams in the league. That would mean 16 teams, under the current format, would miss the playoffs each year.
“It’s important to note here, Gary Bettman is among those that doesn’t think it needs changing, he doesn’t think it’s broken, he likes the way it works. But despite the commissioner not wanting to see this happen there’s still a push growing of teams that want to see more make the playoffs and that’s something to watch here as these CBA talks get going.”