Sports

NHL puts lockout in play

FILE - In this Sept. 13, 2012, file photo, NHL hockey commissioner Gary Bettman listens as he meets with reporters after a meeting with team owners, in New York. The NHL locked out its players at midnight Saturday, becoming the third major sports league to impose a work stoppage in the last 18 months. The action also marks the fourth shutdown for the NHL since 1992, including a year-long dispute that forced the cancellation of the entire 2004-05 season when the league held out for a salary cap. The deal which ended that dispute expired at midnight, and Commissioner Gary Bettman followed through on his longstanding pledge to lock out the players with no new agreement in place. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
On Thursday NHL commissioner Gary Bettman issued a reminder that income lost in a lockout would overwhelm reductions via a new agreement.Credit: AP

In the middle of the night, when Saturday turned into Sunday, the NHL went dark.

The NHL locked out its players — as it had in 2004-05 — upon the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement at midnight. No formal negotiations between the NHL and NHLPA took place on Saturday.

The disagreement centers on the players’ share of league revenue.

Advertisement—Continue Reading Below

The NHL reported $3.3 billion in gross revenue in 2011-12. In the final year of the expired CBA, the players received 57 percent of hockey-related revenue. In its latest proposal, the NHL offered a six-year term, with player share designated at 49 percent in the first season. Players would not be subject to salary rollbacks to existing contracts, but they would cede money via escrow.

The players are unwilling to accept a decrease. They have proposed limiting salary growth and partnering with the large-market teams in revenue sharing. The NHL has not accepted revenue sharing as a principle for the next CBA.

With the sides deadlocked over the primary economic sticking point, they have not found common ground over secondary negotiating points, either. Those issues include arbitration rights, length of entry-level contracts, and service time required to reach free agency.

Training camps were scheduled to open on Friday. The Bruins’ first preseason game was scheduled for Sept. 25 against Washington. The NHL should begin canceling preseason games shortly.

Under a lockout, players will not be allowed to use team facilities. Normally, the Bruins would have skated at Ristuccia Arena to prepare for the opening of camp. Instead, they will skate at an undetermined rink.

No Bruins who have been interviewed have secured jobs overseas. They will remain in Boston in anticipation of a prompt agreement. So far, David Krejci (Czech Republic) and Dennis Seidenberg (Germany) are the only players who have expressed interest in specific destinations.

Insurance will be a hurdle for those playing overseas. Players and their agents must negotiate policies with European teams in case of injury. The Bruins, for example, would not be subject to paying a player’s salary if he was injured while playing for another club during the lockout. Rates vary, but one agent said a policy could cost $7,000-$12,000 per million of coverage.

While players continue their training, their employers will shift their priorities. The Providence Bruins will begin training camp Sept. 28.

Jordan Caron and Torey Krug are two of the Providence players who could have opened 2012-13 on the varsity roster.

The Bruins’ pro scouts will train some of their sights on the AHL.

On the amateur side, the team will continue its normal course of scouting junior and NCAA players in preparation for the 2013 draft.

Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said he will travel more than usual during the lockout to monitor prospects and draft-eligible players.

Teams are not permitted to make transactions during a lockout. The Bruins were among the teams executing last-minute moves Saturday by extending Milan Lucic.

The NHL is scheduled to open the regular season Oct. 11. Realistically, teams and players would need at least one week of training camp. That means the sides would have to negotiate an agreement within the next two weeks.

It’s possible the league could push back the season-opening date to accommodate an 82-game schedule, but the NHL has been hesitant about extending the Stanley Cup Final into mid-June.

The next pressure point will be when players begin missing game checks in mid-October. They do not receive salaries during the preseason, aside from per diem.

Injured players are the exception. Marc Savard, under contract through 2017, will receive his regular salary during the lockout. Nathan Horton is also considered injured, but will be declared fit to play shortly, according to Chiarelli.

Share