First thing’s first, check in with Ira’s latest Top 25 Under 25 Entry on Tyler Benson, the last player outside of our top 10 for 2020.
Secondly, I’m not sure if anyone noticed this doozy of a thread from player agent — and Marc-Andre Fleury photoshopper — Allan Walsh:
The NHL is soft floating the idea with media if no deal with the NHLPA is reached on the Return to Play, it can unilaterally invoke Force Majeure and cancel the 2020-21 season. 1/— Allan Walsh (@walsha) December 2, 2020
Ruh roh. But Walsh continues:
There are so many flaws to this, I don’t know where to start. Does the NHL really think it can demand an additional $300M in concessions from players after negotiating the financial terms of the 20-21 season DURING the pandemic 4 months ago? 2/— Allan Walsh (@walsha) December 2, 2020
The Players agreed to accept 72% of their contracts due to the pandemic. NHL owners cannot now assert they don’t like the deal, demand $300M more from the Players and if the Players don’t give in, cancel the season by invoking Force Majeure? 3/— Allan Walsh (@walsha) December 2, 2020
In reality, if the NHL cancels the 20-21 season because the Players won’t give another $300M in concessions, that is a LOCKOUT, which is expressly prohibited by CBA Art. 7.1 (b). 4/— Allan Walsh (@walsha) December 2, 2020
If the NHL lawyers are advising owners they have a winning case here, I suggest they go back to law school. Owners will be subjecting themselves to billions in potential damages if they falsely invoke Force Majeure to cancel the season. End— Allan Walsh (@walsha) December 2, 2020
So Walsh is clearly of the opinion that the NHL can’t bin the season within the parameters of the CBA. Of course, he’s clearly on one side of this issue, so while maybe it feels good to hear someone so connected be so confident that the NHL can’t do that, it’s probably still a situation worth paying attention to.
While paying attention to it, I came across another thread from a (non-labor, non-CBA) lawyer, who had a couple of thoughts on the matter:
The NHL, like the NBA, has since the lockouts featured a CBA that includes both a salary cap and a guaranty that players and owners each get a fixed percentage of Hockey Related Revenue. So if the League unexpectedly profits, players gain. If League unexpectedly loses, they lose— Josh (garik16) (@garik16) December 2, 2020
By contrast, compare MLB (as I'll be doing a bunch in this thread), with no fixed proportions, players are guaranteed their salaries, but if the league profits - as it has for years - they don't get any benefits. If it loses, they're also not affected.— Josh (garik16) (@garik16) December 2, 2020
Leagues didn't want to do that. So they began to negotiate deals with players to try to make a season - a continuation for the NHL/NBA, a start of one for MLB - possible. For the NHL, TV contractual obligations, plus escrow for the players made that highly desirable.— Josh (garik16) (@garik16) December 2, 2020
Meanwhile, the NHL came to not only a deal to return to play, but a 4 year CBA extension in JULY, after MLB's mess and well after COVID became apparent. The NHL had no obligation to extend the CBA or adjust Escrow, but they did anyway and were contractually bound.— Josh (garik16) (@garik16) December 2, 2020
Now we get into the nuts and bolts:
Okay Background over, sorry for the flood. NHL now wants to renegotiate these terms from July, claiming it can't afford them, and now leaks to NHL-friendly reporters that it can cancel the season if the players don't agree.— Josh (garik16) (@garik16) December 2, 2020
Can it? The answer is: Doubtful.
Again, not actually looking at the CBA clauses itself, but I'd be stunned if this was otherwise: The NHL can't try to argue COVID-19 is an unexpected Force Majeure event...because they signed the deal in JULY. COVID was already well apparent at that point!— Josh (garik16) (@garik16) December 2, 2020
Moreover, MLB had already signed an MOU like the NHL's (just not as permanent) and had a 3 month dispute over it due to changing COVID circumstances. All before the July CBA extension.— Josh (garik16) (@garik16) December 2, 2020
The situation was pretty easily foreseeable and they signed the CBA anyhow!
All this, leading to to this conclusion:
As such, NHL has no grounds for entirely canceling the season, and if they do so or keep postponing indefinitely to the same effect, it's arguably (and to me pretty clearly) a wildcat lockout, which is a massive violation of labor laws that Courts won't let stand.— Josh (garik16) (@garik16) December 2, 2020
It doesn't matter how much the teams and league are losing at this point, they're stuck. And sucks for them, that's how the mechanics they negotiated work.— Josh (garik16) (@garik16) December 2, 2020
Ooo, baby. I’m no lawyer, but that seems reasonable enough to me. The NHL cannot claim ignorance — they signed the new deal in the summer.
Anyway, TL;DR, I came across a lawyer’s take on the cancellation rumors that beginning to make the rounds yesterday. It seems to me like the NHL might not have a legal case to do so. So, we wait.
The 2020 Copper And Blue Top 25 Under 25: #11 Tyler Benson (Copper and Blue)
Hot Links: Tuesday, December 1 (Copper and Blue)
The 2020 Copper And Blue Top 25 Under 25: #12 Ryan McLeod (Copper and Blue)
Fast And Furious (Lowetide)
Oilers Need To Move On From Jujhar Khaira (THW)
NHL’s Return To Play Can’t Happen Soon Enough For Jesse Puljujarvi (Journal)
Oilers Notebook: What’s New With Edmonton’s Players Overseas? (Oilersnation)
What Will Connor McDavid Produce In 2021? (Oilersnation)
NHL Future Power Rankings: Projecting the 2023-24 standings (Athletic)