Today, I secured a copy of the NHLPA’s memo to its players advising that the NHL has issued its notice of CBA termination. This means that the NHL has given its notice to bargain (this is the legal term), or put another way, has indicated to the NHLPA that it wishes to negotiate a new CBA. The impact of notice is that it ensures that the current CBA won't be renewed for another year. If notice was not given in the allotted time, then the current CBA would have been renewed for another year.
The NHLPA’s Memo
Advising of the Notice to Bargain
Donald Fehr’s memo to the players informed the players of the NHL's recent move:
"Today we received written notice from the NHL that it wants “to terminate and/or modify” the CBA when it expires at midnight on September 15, 2012. Had no notice been given by either party, under CBA Article 3.1(a) the CBA would have remained in place for another year. As you know, this is not a surprise; we have anticipated this for some time.”
So if the NHL had not provided this notice, then the current CBA would have stayed in place and the players and teams would have operated under the existing rules next season. That would include a 57% share of revenue for players. You can see why the NHL had to provide this notice; the players were probably quite happy with the status quo (and therefore saw no reason to provide notice).
As for Article 3.1(a) of the CBA, it provides that the CBA “shall remain in full force and effect until midnight New York time on September 15, 2011, and shall remain in effect from year to year thereafter unless…either party shall deliver to the other a written notice of termination of this Agreement at least 120 days prior to September 15, 2011 or not less than a like period in any year thereafter”.
So again – no notice means the CBA is renewed for a year. Given that that the NHL wants to see changes to a few terms in the CBA, including revenue sharing and restrictions on long term deals, the NHL was going to provide notice. For that reason, the NHLPA advised its members that notice was not a surprise.
All Aboard Please
Fehr continues in his memo by encouraging players to attend bargaining sessions as that is an effective way to send a message to the League that the players are taking this very seriously:
“We have been continuing to meet with Players to discuss your ideas and suggestions for a new CBA. Stay tuned and we will notify you as soon as we have information about when and where the negotiating sessions with the League will take place. As I’ve said on many occasions, all Players are encouraged to attend as many of these bargaining sessions as possible. In fact, there is no better way to send a message to the League that Players are engaged in the process of bargaining for a fair new contract.”
Given that notice has been provided, the next step is for both sides to meet. The NHL has said for a while that it has been prepared to negotiate and this should get things rolling. Ultimately, notice to bargain preserves the NHL's position as it looks to start negotiations.