September 03, 2018

Labour Pains?

The darkest mark - and it is a pretty big one - on Gary Bettman's legacy is the multiple lockouts in collective bargaining with the NHLPA.

We could be in store for another such labour dispute as early as one year from now.

According to the CBA itself, the NHL has the right to terminate the current agreement early on Sept. 1, 2019. The NHLPA has the same opt-out right on Sept. 15, 2019.

While we don't want to premature sound the alarm bells, that is just one year away. And I suspect both sides have game plans in place already.

Make no mistake - whenever the CBA is re-opened, there will be another lockout if the two sides can not come to a negotiated agreement prior to the start of the season. This is a very clear tactic in Bettman's playbook that leaves the hammer in the owners' hands. He will never - ever - allow the season to start without an agreement in place and allow the players to hold the Stanley Cup playoffs hostage with a possible mid-season strike.

Seemingly a labour stoppage whenever the contract does expire should be avoidable. There will be no major systemic reworking here. The salary cap is in place. The owners are making money. The players are making money. The league overall is very healthy. It should be a tweaking rather than over haul, right?

We we though the same thing back in 2012-13 and we had to endure a 113 day labour stoppage then.

So on Labour Day weekend 2018, be sure to enjoy the fact that the new NHL season is nearly upon us. Because we might not be so lucky on Labour Day weekend next year.

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