The NHL and NHL Players’ Association will meet in Toronto on Monday but it will not be to resume labour negotiations.
However, it is possible the league and the players’ union will come up with a schedule to resume their talks for a new collective agreement after the meeting, which is an annual one held to get each side’s final approval on hockey-related revenue (HRR) from the previous season. An NHLPA spokesman said the union wants to resume the labour negotiations “and hopefully the league feels the same.” An NHL spokesman said the league is open to the possibility.
“I guess we’ll have to see on Monday,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said Saturday in an e-mail message about the chance of negotiations starting up again after talks broke off 10 days ago.
Monday’s meeting will see the NHLPA and the NHL sign off on the final hockey-related revenue numbers from the 2011-12 season. It is a follow-up to the annual meeting in June when the tentative payroll range is set for the coming season so the league’s general managers and owners know what they can spend on July 1 in the yearly free-agent frenzy.
In June, the union and the league established $70.2-million (all currency U.S.) as the preliminary salary cap for the 2012-13 season, based on $3.3-billion in revenue. However, that number was wiped out on Sept. 15 when the collective agreement expired and the owners locked out the players.
Neither NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, nor NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr plans to attend Monday’s meeting. They rarely attend the HRR sessions, which are more for the accountants from each side plus the independent accounting firm that handles the final reconciliation of the revenue numbers. However, Steve Fehr, Donald’s brother and the union’s special counsel, will be there along with Daly.
The meetings are generally sleepy affairs, although last September’s meeting produced a few fireworks. That was when the NHLPA first raised the question of including in HRR for the 2010-11 season the $25-million subsidy the league received from the city of Glendale for the Phoenix Coyote. The union also questioned the revenue reports from the Washington Capitals and the Nashville Predators.
After a prolonged argument that delayed the disposition of the players’ salary escrow money, the matter went to arbitration and a settlement was reached. This added about $20-million to the 2010-11 HRR.