NHL Announces It Won't Reopen CBA; NHLPA Can Still File for Early Termination

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorAugust 30, 2019

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - MAY 27: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman speaks during a press conference prior to Game One of the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Final between the Boston Bruins and the St. Louis Blues at TD Garden on May 27, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The NHL has opted against reopening the collective bargaining agreement between the league and the NHL Players' Association, according to Tom Gulitti of NHL.com.

Both sides have the option to reopen the CBA, which is set to expire on Sept. 15, 2022. However, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman revealed why the league will not be doing so.

"Based on the current state of the game and the business of the game, the NHL believes it is essential to continue building upon the momentum we have created with our Players and, therefore, will not exercise its option to reopen the CBA," Bettman said in a statement on Friday.

The commissioner also wrote that he hoped a "continued, sustained period of labor peace will enable us to further grow the game and benefit all constituent groups" and that the benefits of keeping the CBA "far outweigh the disruptive consequences of terminating it following the upcoming season."

The NHL has endured three work stoppages since 1994-95, including the cancellation of the entire 2004-05 season. Only 48 regular-season games were played during the 1994-95 and 2012-13 campaigns.

Although the NHL has opted against an early termination, the NHLPA can still do so until a Sept. 15 deadline, per Gulitti.

However, there isn't a rush to get something done even if the NHLPA reopened the agreement. Per Gulitti, the NHL and NHLPA would have a full calendar year to either renegotiate or delay the CBA's expiration date.

Any discord between the two sides on the negotiating table isn't visible. Per Gulitti, "the league and the NHLPA have met regularly throughout the offseason to discuss a possible extension to the CBA and plan to continue meeting." He also wrote that both parties have "said the talks have been productive and cordial."

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly and NHLPA special assistant to the executive director Mathieu Schneider provided evidence for those remarks in January. Daly told reporters:

"We've had a couple of meetings and we're exploring the possibility of whether we can bridge gaps early. 

"Earlier the better. We obviously understand the difficulties we've had in the past. I think both parties have acknowledged that. I think the fact that we're sitting down having constructive dialogue on open issues at an early date is very positive. I can't tell you where it will go. We're, as I said, in the very early stages of that process. But it's been a good process to this point."

Schneider said that the two sides are "able to have these discussions now without [the tension from the 2012 talks], without any walls being built up, and it's been very positive so far."

The NHLPA must make its call by Sept. 15. Per TSN's Pierre LeBrun, the NHLPA executive board and a few players will meet Wednesday in Chicago for a "CBA update discussion."