By Patrick Kelly
With negotiations between the league and the NHLPA starting to pick up, where they are apart is being shown. Like MLB last spring, it comes down to salary. As a part of the CBA extension that was signed along with the return to play, the players agreed to take a 20 percent pay cut for the upcoming season. With the uncertainty of the second wave of COVID-19 in full swing, it is unclear what capacities will look like in arenas.
This is also the time when politics starts to creep into sports. With Joe Biden winning the presidential election and rumors of lockdowns, the idea of playing the season much less with fans could be very difficult. At the same time there is hope that with vaccines on the horizon eventually becoming widely distributed, arenas could be able to have more fans and then waiting for full capacity once the virus numbers start to plummet.
On top of the 20 percent hit the players are already taking, the owners are asking them to take an additional 13 percent cut, which would mean players losing a third of their pay for the next season. With ticket revenue making up an average of 40 percent of revenue, it has become hard to make ends meet. The Tampa Bay Lightning laid off 30 people and the Edmonton Oilers were sued this week for two unpaid hotel bills. Money is starting to become tight for all leagues, which only can help push forward the return to play. While they may not be able to have fans, the NHL is usually in full swing right now and needs to start games to bring in some revenue.
It appears as if the NHL will play this year, but the specifics have to be worked out first. With the CBA being extended and the virus effect probably stretching on for years, it could mean the owners continue to ask for more from the players. According to 590’s Andy Strickland, the NHL is looking to play 60 games over a four to four-and-a-half month season that has to be completed done before the Summer Olympics begin July 23.