Gross: Labor peace paramount to NHL and its players this time
The NHL-NHL Players’ Association relationship has not often been one associated with long-term labor peace. But faced with an unprecedented crisis in the COVID-19 pandemic, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA Executive Director Don Fehr knew this was not the time to squabble
Et voila, after about four months of intense negotiations spurred by the pause of the season on March 12, there is peace in our time. A four-year Collective Bargaining Agreement extension through 2026 that goes hand-in-hand with the return-to-play agreement to try and complete the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“This time, Don and I both recognized labor peace was something that we couldn’t even quantify how important it was,” Bettman said Saturday on a joint NHL-NHLPA teleconference after both sides ratified the agreement on Friday. “There was enough disruption going on in the world. We didn’t need to add to it.”
Bettman’s subsequent statement that he’s “always believed labor peace is important…labor disruptions are just that, disruptive. You try to avoid them, sometimes you just can’t,” probably should have been met with cynical guffaws. After all, under Bettman’s watch, owners’ lockouts wiped out the full 2004-05 season and limited 1994-95 and 2012-13 to 48 games.
And, let’s face it, the players are giving up more under this CBA to keep the peace than the owners, even if the players got the wanted concession of returning to Olympic participation in 2022 and 2026 for the first time since 2014. The owners, with a 50-50 split of ...
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