Can The NHL Avoid Lockout?

Forbes.com reported a story about the NHLPA and the owners being in the midst of heavy negotiations regarding a new collective bargaining agreement. An initial offer from owners was received in mid-July, but fans are waiting to see if the proposal will help avoid another costly lockout.

The collective bargaining agreement is expiring on September 15, so both sides are hoping to reach an agreement to avoid a lockout similar to the 1994-1995 lockout which cancelled the season and almost crippled the sport.

Commissioner for the NHL, Gary Bettman, has said that the league needs to tighten its policy towards player salaries and make sure signing bonuses and back-loaded contracts are  no more. Bettman pointed out that NHL players are taking 57 percent of the total revenue, whereas in the NFL and the NBA the players get 46 percent. The owners and Bettman both feel this should not be the case in the future. The NHL reported a $14.7 loss in recent tax filings, even though league attendance is climbing and the NHL signed a record deal with NBC for the broadcasting rights.

Bettman’s own salary went up by $2 million during the last season, and the NHL has spent around $ 8 million on legal fees over the past year.

The NHLPA negotiation is being led by Executive Director Donald Fehr, who is famous for leading the MLBPA through a 7.5 month strike in 1994. Fehr has a reputation of being a tough negotiator after the Major League Baseball negotiations.

During the 2004-2005 lockout 350 players went to Europe to play, and now the KHL is a well-established league that is already competing for players, so both sides of the negotiation know what is at stake. The NHL also recognizes the issues it might have with NBC and sponsors if a lockout should arise.

Negotiations are a key part of business, but you should not forget that they are not just about money. There are many legal aspects to consider even if you are not negotiating a deal such as the NHL one. Make sure you know what you are doing and that your contracts are in order before you make a deal. Get experienced help on these and other business-related legal matters, and contact our business lawyers in Naperville, Illinois today.