The collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and the NHLPA expires in September, and as the 2011-12 season winds down, worries of a potential labor stoppage increase. Months back, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman claimed that labor talks would begin with the union at some point around the 2012 All-Star Game.
The All-Star Game has come and gone, and labor talks have yet to begin. Why not, and should we be concerned? Via USA Today:
"I'm not prepared to tell you when we'll begin formal negotiations," [Bettman] said. "That's a call that we pretty much left up to the players association. We're ready and we have been ready, but the union has some work to do."
So what about it, union? Here's Donald Fehr, NHLPA executive director, via the same USA Today story:
"There is this view that somehow to have a big formal meeting you ... have to have a dozen or two, or six dozen people sitting around a table like the auto workers used to do," Fehr said. "That's largely untrue. We'll get to that at the appropriate time."
The biggest worry comes at the foot of Fehr, who presided over the MLB Players Association and that league's 1994 lockout. The NHLPA's rejected of the league's proposed realignment plan seemed like the first salvo in these labor talks, but everything said publicly by the two parties thus far has been rather cordial.
There's no reason to panic or worry just yet, but that doesn't mean it'd be nice to have formal talks take place sooner than later.
For all the news surrounding the NHL's collective bargaining agreement and the ongoing quest to replace it, stick with this StoryStream.