Rejoice, hockey fans.
A little over two weeks after the NHL chose to not opt-out of the current collective bargaining agreement set in place following the 2012-13 lockout, the NHL Players’ Association (NHLPA) followed suit, announcing Monday that it too would not leave the current framework.
As such, both parties have agreed to labor peace for at least the next three years — avoiding a potential lockout in September 2020 and potentially setting the stage for an even longer extension looking forward.
“While players have concerns with the current CBA, we agree with the league that working together to address those concerns is the preferred course of action instead of terminating the agreement following this season,” NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr said in a statement. “We have been having discussions with the league about an extension of the CBA and expect that those talks will continue.”
The current CBA is set to expire after the 2021-22 season, however, both the league and the NHLPA had the option this month to opt-out if need be, which would have then accelerated the CBA’s expiry date to September 2020 — setting the stage for yet another potential lockout next season.
However, the NHLPA’s decision to continue negotiations and at least avoid a work stoppage for the next three years is a positive step in a negotiation process that historically has turned sour between players and owners during previous lockout incidents.
When it comes to flaws in the current CBA, the NHLPA has far and away the most issues — whether it be escrow and revenue-sharing discrepancies, participation in international tournaments (namely the Olympics) and much more.
But there might be light at the end of the tunnel in some regards when it comes to finding a common ground on those issues and more, especially with both parties set to continue to negotiate.