Kukla's Korner

Kukla's Korner Hockey

The Latest From Gary Bettman

from Frank Seravalli of TSN,

Speaking publicly for the first time since the Stanley Cup Final, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said Wednesday at a virtual sports conference that the league’s targeted Jan. 1 start date remains “a work in progress influenced largely by what we’re hearing from medical experts.”

Bettman did not move off the Jan. 1 target, no matter how unrealistic it may be to pull off now, while COVID-19 numbers continue to skyrocket across North America and the NHL and NHL Players’ Association remain at odds over the financial terms of the 2021 season.

“COVID is going through a second wave, which could be worse than the first wave,” Bettman said. “And between [U.S.] Thanksgiving and the aftermath and what they think is going to happen for Christmas and the aftermath, we are taking our time and making sure that, as we look for ways to move forward, we’re focused on health and safety and doing the right things.”

Health and safety concerns are only part of the reason why the NHL has not nailed down a date to drop the puck in 2021.

The NHL has requested players defer additional salary for the 2021 season, an ask that temporarily iced communication between Bettman and NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr.

But on Wednesday, in conversation with FOX Business host Liz Claman at Sports Business Journal’s 2020 Dealmakers in Sports virtual conference, Bettman said the NHL is “not seeking to renegotiate” the six-year Collective Bargaining Agreement extension that was unanimously ratified by owners in July.


added 6:41pm, Below, watch Elliotte Friedman on Bettman today.

Filed in: | KK Hockey | Permalink


Paul's avatar

Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic,

I get that Bettman is in a tough spot with some of his owners. I’m not convinced that if it was solely up to Bettman that the NHL commissioner would have gone this route. But I think there’s pressure from some owners to alleviate cash concerns for this season. So that’s what Bettman is doing. But no matter how you want to spin it, it’s trying to amend the terms of the existing MOU. Even if the money ultimately remains the same long term, it’s about changing the timing of payment. I get it. So do the players. But that doesn’t mean they don’t see this for what it is: changing the terms of the deal signed a few months ago.

The options here for the NHLPA are clear:

1. Stay resolute, refuse to defer more salary and see whether the NHL and the owners call their bluff. And when I say call their bluff, I mean threaten to cancel the entire season (which would likely invite some legal challenges from the NHLPA and a level of ill will between both sides that would bring back memories of 2004-05). Or, there’s the chance the other side of that bluff is that Bettman goes back to his owners and says he tried but asks to play the season under the terms of the June MOU.

2. Or, the NHLPA comes back with an offer to defer more salary. Not the extra 16 percent the NHL asked for, but let’s say 8 percent or so, for something in return (and perhaps interest?). Nothing is free in bargaining.

If I had to guess, I’d bet on option 2. That the players eventually can live with more salary deferral, but with some strings attached.

more ($$$)

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 12/02/20 at 07:27 PM ET


That rhetoric that illustrates the pressure from owners as somehow menacing or unfair is spinning it in a favor of player’s interest and disrespects other partners of the partnership. Players and owners were able to share profit in 50/50 ratio. Why can’t they share also the burden of Covid-19 situation in a 50/50 ratio too?

Posted by tutoka from Leelanau Peninsula on 12/03/20 at 08:09 AM ET

Red Winger's avatar

Bettman is a true politician: says so much without saying anything.

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie, MI on 12/03/20 at 08:37 AM ET

The Meal's avatar

Considering the owners (immediately) lose more, the more games get played this season, I expect the real negotiation is the fewest number of games they can play and still consider this a legitimate season.  48 has been the number in the past, but it would not surprise me if they are shooting for something like 42 this time around.  If projections are that arenas can operate at larger capacities come late spring/summer, then obviously the owners want to push as many games into that timeframe as possible.  I would not be surprised to hear that such a bottlenecked season results in a relatively quick playoff (maybe with 3- or 5-game series) to maximize the number of arenas with hockey as late as possible.

Numbers I’ve heard is that a team loses $15M if they don’t play a game this year, but closer to $60M if they play 48-games.

Obviously there’s a HUGE hit if they don’t play any games this year as relevance to fans (and TV revenues) plummet long-term.

Posted by The Meal from Firestone, CO on 12/03/20 at 09:39 AM ET

Royal Grand Exalted PooBah's avatar

I think they should play as many games as possible before the olympics and then have the playoffs after the olympics. People should be allowed to go to the games by late spring if they have been vaccinated and might even be a full arena by fall.

Posted by Royal Grand Exalted PooBah from the basement of the Alamo on 12/03/20 at 04:54 PM ET

Add a Comment

Please limit embedded image or media size to 575 pixels wide.

Add your own avatar by joining Kukla's Korner, or logging in and uploading one in your member control panel.

Captchas bug you? Join KK or log in and you won't have to bother.


Notify me of follow-up comments?


Most Recent Blog Posts

About Kukla's Korner Hockey

Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

Email Paul anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com