Commissioner Gary Bettman and the executive director of the players Association, Donald Fehr, appeared relieved on Saturday, but they consist also with a certain uncertainty, in spite of the agreement surrounding the next return to the game and the renewal of the collective agreement in the national hockey League (NHL).
“Such negotiations are never easy, but it was still more complicated in the present circumstances, confessed Fehr, making obviously referring to the pandemic of COVID-19 during a video conference. We live in a difficult period and nobody knows what the future holds for us. Some people might say that this is not a perfect understanding, but it comes with a lot of challenges.”
Fehr has obviously done a good job in the eyes of the players, as they have voted in favour of the agreement to 78.8%. A simple majority (50% + 1) was necessary in order to move forward. The possibility of rejection seemed great since the proposal consisted of two different aspects: either the next phases of the protocol back in the game as well as the renewal of the agreement until September 2026.
“This is not purely about the return to the game, but we should focus on the future of hockey,” said Bettman, in turn.
Both parties are well aware that revenues may be down in the NHL, and the objective was to reduce the impact as much for players as for the circuit.
“We hope that there will be no drop in revenue, but we know that it is something that is possible,” said Fehr.
The idea of Jason Spezza
For this press conference, Bettman and Fehr were accompanied by their deputy respective, or Bill Daly and Mathieu Schneider. These have obviously shared the widespread concern surrounding the return to the game in this period of pandemic coronavirus.
“We all live day by day and we will see what will happen”, has slipped Daly.
In the case of Schneider, who himself has played 1289 games in the NHL, he has shown understanding in the face of fears of the current players. It was also revealed that Jason Spezza, Toronto Maple Leafs, was the one who had suggested the idea that the families of the players can have access to “bubbles”.
“It makes sense for everyone,” agreed Schneider.
Why not Las Vegas?
Questioned on the choice of the cities of Edmonton and Toronto by a journalist from Las Vegas, Daly has simply explained that the NHL had to choose “the two cities-bubbles, guaranteeing the best possible security, and that this was not the case for Las Vegas.”
Recall that the training camps of the 24 teams invited to take part in the knock-out tournament, including the Montreal canadiens, can begin as early as Monday. On 26 July, the clubs, the Association Is able to set up their home in Toronto, while people in the West will move to Edmonton. Preparatory meetings are also planned from 28 to 30 July, before the start of the qualification round, the 1st of August. As announced previously, the series between the Canadian and the Pittsburgh Penguins should rightly start on the first day.
The collective agreement in a few points:
- The NHL and the players Association have lined the remaining two years of the previous collective agreement and chose to start fresh for the next six years.
- The salary cap remains attached to 81.5 M$ and it will be so until the revenues related to hockey join the bar of$ 3.3 billion. An adjustment will be made pro rata of the increase.
- Report by the players 10% of their expected salary for the next season; the amount subtracted will be redistributed by the owners from 2022-2023.
- The amounts placed in trust will be limited to 20% during the season 2020-2021. They will decrease gradually to 6% in each of the last three years of the agreement.
- Players will be allowed to participate in the olympic Games from 2022 to Beijing and 2026 in Milan.