NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr are going to meet in person early next week to further discuss whether or not the players will participate in the 2018 Olympics, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.
The players have been pushing to play in the Games while the owners have been resisting, including being recently reported as having a “strong negative sentiment” towards the idea.
It’s no secret what the NHL wants in exchange for letting its players head overseas to PyeongChang.
“The NHL has put its cards on the table,” said Friedman during the Headlines segment of Hockey Night in Canada. “They want some labour peace in exchange for going to the Olympics.”
The job for the NHLPA has now become finding some sort of grounds on which they can negotiate.
“I think what the players are trying to find out is: ‘what are our options here. Is there a negotiation that can happen? Is there something we can do to ease the issue?’ Escrow is their number one issue,” he said. “I don’t think it will be easy, but the fact is they’ve seen the Major League Baseball players get a new CBA done without a work stoppage, the NBA players have now got a new deal done without a work stoppage, so I think what they are going to find a way to do here is see if there is a way to solve the issue.
“Is there room for negotiation here when they meet this week?”
If the players were to be prevented from playing in 2018, it will be for the first time in six consecutive Olympics.
As far as a new CBA is concerned, no one knows if the two sides have had any discussion into it at all.
“As of now there is no hard evidence whatsoever to suggest that they are even talking about a CBA,” said Nick Kypreos on Headlines.
The last CBA was signed on Jan. 12, 2013 after the NHL locked out it’s players for four months and it remains in effect until Sept. 15, 2022.
At the end of the day, even if no decision is made at the conclusion of the meeting, the next step of the Olympic negotiation will be decided next week.
“I think we are going to see the next phase of where this goes. We know the deadline is sometime by the end of January,” said Friedman. “One thing I’ve always believed in: deadlines spur action. We’ve got a month, let’s see what they can do.”