MAYBE WE’RE DROPPING THE PUCK

On the surface, it looks like there will be a professional hockey season.  According to the National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players Association, the 2020-2021 season will be an abbreviated one of 56 games set to begin on January 13.

This was possible because it has been alleged that both sides have managed to work out their money issues as it applies to the collective bargaining agreement.  It has been reported that the NHL and the NHLPA have decided not to renegotiate the CBA and revert back to the memorandum of understanding that allowed the completion of the previous campaign.

The major hurdle right now is to try and come up with a schedule that will allow all franchises to permit fans into the arenas with no restriction on numbers.  With a spike in Covid-19 cases almost assured over the winter holiday season, that looks like a daunting task to say the least for a January start date.

With all that being said,

there’s still an enormous elephant in the room that is not been addressed.  That issue is how the salaries of the players in a truncated season will be determined and, surprisingly, it all stems from the decision of another profession sports entity.

The landscape may have changed dramatically after a fiscal choice made by the National Basketball Association.  Sometime in late November and early December, the NBA secured a $900 million (yes, you’re reading that right) loan at a discounted interest rate from private groups.  That money was distributed to all pro basketball franchises, to the tune of $30 million each, to defray the lost revenue from the previous season as well as to cover costs directly related to the pandemic.

This leaves the NHLPA in a quandary.  The players are wondering why their league didn’t take the same aggressive initiate that “The Association” did to try and alleviate some of the financial burden of the previous coronavirus ridden season.

Still, there are bigger fish to fry.  Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that the season starts and the first week’s checks to the players are prorated to a reduced number of games. With the players expecting their full salary, does the NHLPA accept this or do they petition an arbitrator or go as far as petition the National Labor Relations Board.

That would probably lead to interruption of play.  That’s certainly not what either side wants to happen.

So, as you can plainly see, there is still more work to be done on multiple issues if the NHL plans on dropping the puck at all their venues around the middle of January.  Hopefully, both side will get ‘er done.