The NHL and NHL Players association made a smart decision to not reopen CBA talks until after the 2021-22 season leaving the window of opportunity open for the San Jose Sharks to win.
Relief should be the feeling amongst players, management, and fans of the San Jose Sharks with the decision to keep the current CBA in place for the next few seasons.
Given the past negotiations which saw the 2004-05 season get wiped out and a shortened season in 2012-13, having labor peace is a welcoming sight.
Hockey continues to grow throughout North America and is benefitting teams in smaller markets such as the Carolina Hurricanes. The team made an improbable run in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs before falling to the Boston Bruins in the conference final.
The longevity of maintaining a CBA and growing revenue will benefit all parties and avoid catastrophes from the previous work stoppages.
The Vegas Golden Knights are perhaps the biggest winner from the announcement, joining the league last season. Success came automatically from the expansion draft and making trades as the Golden Knights reached the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural campaign.
The reality of the playoffs came last season after losing in seven games against a more potent San Jose Sharks team in the first round.
Commissioner Gary Bettman took a gamble in giving the green light for the NHL to expand to 31 teams with Las Vegas.
With the growth of the sport, a good turnout was needed for future expansions. The NHL already had a footing in Las Vegas with the end-of-the-year awards show held in the city.
With the Raiders coming into town, the Golden Knights cannot afford to lose popularity with an NFL team looking to tap into the market. Management has done a decent job in locking up for the current and future and do not appear to be tapering off.
Seattle will become the 32nd franchise in a couple of years, joining the Pacific Division with San Jose. The city of Seattle is a great destination and will likely become a popular destination for hockey fans.
Perhaps the expansion team will form a rivalry with the Sharks similar to the current one with Vegas.
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With no threat of a potential lockout next season, by no means is the current CBA a great one as players and owners are in disagreement with some of the parameters.
One area is being represented in the Olympics as the NHL did not have players play in the 2018 games in PyeongChang, South Korea.
The NHL did not want to have a break in between the season for players to represent their respected countries. With the NHL wanting to expand its brand globally, not having a presence is undoubtedly a missed opportunity.
As the games will be in Beijing in 2022, the NHL and the NHLPA should work together in allowing players to play in China. Basketball is already maintaining a strong presence with the NBA playing games in China and superstars being identifiable with the popularity of the sport.
Both NHL and NHLPA must band together and find a resolution with the IIHF and the IOC to avoid falling behind in popularity from other associations.
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Secondly, both players and owners do not want to see another lockout, knowing the financial implications affecting businesses around the arenas. Owners would like to have the salary cap continue to grow as some were likely disappointed about this year’s cap (Sharks’ extension with Erik Karlsson).
On a positive, both sides are talking about possibly extending the CBA and have plenty of time to produce positive results in the discussions. Unfortunately, talks could turn sour between now and after the current CBA expires.
With both sides agreeing not to reopen the current deal, meaningful conversations will likely occur, unlike the previous round which almost cost another lost season in 2012-13.
Optimism is just one word to describe the NHL and the NHLPA agreeing to maintain the current CBA. Hopefully, the two sides will work out the negatives on the current pact and revise issues to keep hockey going.
Nobody wants to see Commissioner Bettman and NHLPA executive director, Donald Fehr, give glooming outlooks of another stoppage.