NHL: Why the Collective Bargaining Agreement Should Have Already Been Settled

Eric SteitzAnalyst IIIJuly 8, 2012

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman ratifies the 2005 NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman ratifies the 2005 NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement.Tom Pidgeon/Getty Images

The NHL and the NHL Players' Association (NHLPA) completed two "productive" days of negotiation on the collective bargaining agreement Friday at the league offices, according to the league's official website. 

Donald Fehr, executive director of the NHLPA stated:

We covered a number of different subjects, which is what you do when you're beginning the bargaining process. A lot more to go. We're not at the beginning in the sense that we're just starting with no preliminary work or anything, but we're at the relatively early stages of the discussions.

So, this is an accomplishment to not be at the beginning, when these talks could have started in 2008?

When this CBA was signed on July 22, 2005 to end the 310-day work stoppage, the agreement was for six years. That meant play would continue through the 2010-2011 season, with a players' option to extend the agreement through 2011-2012.

And now we are here.

So what's the point? The point is, the NHL took a serious hit in popularity when they cancelled the 2004-2005 season due to the work stoppage.

What many people don't know about this CBA is that it allows the NHLPA to reopen the agreement in year four, or after the 2008-2009 season.

The San Jose Sharks won the Presidents' Trophy.

Alexander Ovechkin was the season MVP.

Evgeni Malkin was the top scorer.

And one of the biggest names in sports, Sidney Crosby, led the Pittsburgh Penguins past the Detroit Red Wings to win his first ever Stanley Cup.

Isn't that a perfect time to reassess the CBA?

This upcoming NHL season is in a slight state of flux as discussions begin. These talks are in much better shape than in 2004, but it does raise a significant question: Couldn't we have been done with this already?