The CBA season officially opened on Monday as the NHLPA Executive Board met with representatives from all 30 NHL teams in Chicago as they prepare to enter into negotiations with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on a new labor deal.
The meetings will be taking place through Wednesday at the Peninsula Hotel in Chicago, and there were approximately 50 NHLPA members in attendance. Bruins player rep Daniel Paille and Andrew Ference were in attendance representing the Bs. Ference was a former player rep that was involved heavily in player union activity when former NHLPA Exec Director and Massachusetts native Paul Kelly was ousted from power two years ago.
Among other things on the first day of meetings, NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr offered that the NHL season could begin on time even if theres no collective bargaining agreement in place if both sides were amenable to it.
Theres nothing magic about Sept. 15. The law is that if you dont have a new agreement, and as long as both sides are willing to keep negotiating, you can continue to play under the terms of the old one until you reach an agreement, said Fehr to reporters. All I know is that in baseball, there were any number of occasions in which we played while the parties were continuing to negotiate.
Thats a nice good faith gesture by Fehr, but its hard to believe the owners will go for that on Sept. 15 if theres a chasm between the players union and the NHL with training camp reporting dates bearing down on them.
The expectation is that Fehr and his NHLPA staff could sit down with Bettman and Co. prior to the July 1 opening of NHL free agency, and begin negotiations that are expected to last at least through the balance of the summer.