Walsh: NHL players angry at having ‘proverbial gun pointed’ at them over season

Player agent Allan Walsh joined Tim and Sid to talk about the NHLPA and ownership’s issues, and why he doesn’t think a January 1st, 2021 start date for the next season is viable.

Suffice to say, players are none too pleased with the latest proposed amendments by the NHL to the new CBA signed in July.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported earlier Thursday that players feel angry and betrayed after receiving two separate proposals from the league on Wednesday as a part of negotiations ahead of the upcoming season.

The first was that salary deferral for the 2020-21 campaign be bumped from the previously agreed upon 10 per cent to 20, and escrow caps from 20 per cent to 25.

The second was for deferred compensation to be raised to 26 per cent for next season, while escrow remains the same as before until years four-to-six of the CBA, rising from six per cent to between 8.5 and nine.

In a Thursday appearance on Tim and Sid, outspoken agent and lawyer Allan Walsh of Octagon Hockey said the proposals essentially amount to a threat with the 2020-21 campaign hanging in the balance.

“From the players’ point of view, this has been negotiated. It’s over. Why are we talking about this again? And why are we talking about this with the footsteps to training camp approaching, when we should be talking about the logistics of getting the players in, starting camp and having a season, versus having a proverbial gun pointed to the players’ heads over a return to play right now,” Walsh said.

Walsh said the CBA negotiated between the NHLPA and NHL in July accounted for a range of possibilities and there’s no reason for changes at this point with the league targeting a Jan. 1 start to the campaign.

“There was a worst-case scenario, a moderate-case scenario and a best-case scenario contemplated between the parties when they negotiated the deal, so to come back four months later, when we might be looking at the worst-case scenario of no fans in the buildings or most of the regular season, and possibly playoffs, to then say, ‘Hey, you know that worst-case scenario we talked about during the negotiation? Yeah, we’d like a do-over on that and we’d like you guys to defer another 16 per cent and we’d like you guys in years four, five and six of the deal to take another three per cent a year of escrow. For the pleasure of giving this all back to us, we’ll let you play the 2020-21 season,” Walsh said.

“If you’re asking if there’s anger out there amongst the players, the answer is: yes,” he added.

Friedman said Thursday for a Jan. 1 start to be possible, a deal between the two parties needs to be reached by the end of the month, noting the league’s proposals “knocked things off course” and players will need a few days to regroup.

However, Walsh is less certain, saying he believes a New Year’s puck drop “is not viable at this point.”

“I don’t believe — despite what we might be hearing now, even though now it comes with a little bit of a caveat of it’s not etched in stone the way it was previously — we’re probably looking at more like a mid-January or even the possibility of a Feb. 1 start date,” he said.


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