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November 14, 2018

World Cup of Hockey

It seems there is interest by the National Hockey League to return to the World Cup of Hockey in 2020. However it will only happen if there is labour peace.

The current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the NHLPA goes through to 2022, though either side can engage reopener clauses as soon as 2019. The NHL does not want the disastrous repeat of 2004 where the tournament was staged with little interest thanks to the looming work stoppage.

The NHL, who have been bragging about how happy they are with the current CBA, simply wants the NHLPA to forgo reopening until the following year. Status quo guaranteed.

That may be their public stance at this point, but they know the players won't bypass an opportunity to hold some degree of leverage in negotiations. If the owners want to host the World Cup - and perhaps more importantly welcome new market Seattle to the league around the same time - then they will insist renegotiating at least parts of the CBA right now. Labour peace comes at a cost.

There are two serious issues from the player's side - the Olympics and escrow.

Though I agree with the owners that the crooked IOC's terms are not worth going, the fact that these games are in Beijing interests the owners. They likely would be even more receptive if Calgary won the Olympic bid in 2026, however municipal voters there just voted not to support the Olympics, albeit in a non-binding plebiscite. That still leaves Stockholm as the new frontrunner and that would still make a return to the Olympics a part of the league's ultimate international strategy.

The players hate escrow, the other key hot-button issue, but it only makes sense that some sort of safe-measure exists to ensure that the salary cap works properly. So far the players have not come up with a viable alternative.

Can the NHL offer some concessions to guarantee labour peace? If they can't, the always maligned World Cup of Hockey is very much in jeopardy.

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