The NHL remains without a start date for next season, and while the hope has shifted towards a potential Jan. 15 start, there’s still more questions than answers when it comes to a return to play.
How we got here — with a new CBA between the NHL and NHLPA, designed to bring about labor peace for the next six years, just four months old — is a source of great frustration for many. Players are bothered by the fact that they’re being asked for additional concessions on a four-month old agreement, and owners are bothered by the fact that they may have to keep their doors closed to fans when the puck drops on next season. (Both of these things should’ve seemed painfully obviously to literally everyone when these sides sat down to hammer out a new deal this past summer, but that’s a topic for another day, I suppose.)
But this current situation has left Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs ‘livid’ with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly, according to the New York Post’s Larry Brooks.
“We’ve been told by two sources that club owners were largely uninformed about the spring and summer negotiations and had little or no time to examine the CBA before it was put to a vote,” Brooks wrote. “Now that the owners understand the ramifications of the deal given the challenges of playing at least a largely spectator-free 2020-21, there is a group livid at the commissioner and deputy Bill Daly. We are told that Boston’s ‘Mr. Jacobs’ is among them.”
Brooks also goes on to note that there is a “handful” of NHL owners who do not want to play a 2021 season without the players agreeing to players agreeing to additional financial concessions.
Nothing about this is shocking.
Jacobs, of course, is the chairman on the NHL’s Board of Governors, so if other owners want him to make a stink, he’ll make a stink. Considered one of the league’s most unrelenting, hard-lined negotiators, Jacobs, worth over $2.6 billion according to Forbes, was a massive force behind the league’s multiple work stoppages over the last 25 years. And Jacobs and Delaware North, which makes the majority of its money off concessions throughout ballparks and stadiums around the country, have taken a bath financially throughout the coronavirus pandemic without fans in the stands for the majority of the 2020 calendar sports year. That’s led to numerous layoffs at its corporate offices in Buffalo and on Causeway. So, again, if there’s an owner “livid,” it’s not hard to imagine that it’s Jacobs. Either for himself or on behalf of his partners.
Where this goes next is anybody’s guess.
But Bettman has been adamant that there will be no renegotiation of the current CBA (probably a solid bet as to why Jacobs & Co. are upset with him), and there’s likely no change when it comes to owners getting their beloved gate as the United States continues to be ravaged by the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The truth may be as simple as both sides are short on real options and will instead find themselves fully locked into a bad deal for both parties in 2021 no matter their anger.
The good news, however, is that the NHL and NHLPA remain in contact about next season. The sides reportedly talked numerous times throughout the weekend, and with talks are expected to get serious this week to get to that Jan. 15 start.
We talked about this in the newest episode of Sidelines at 985TheSportsHub.com. Listen to the full podcast below.
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.