New Jersey has just gotten through a long, hot summer and a lot of sports fans are looking forward to cooling down with the return of the NHL.
When last the locals had looked, the New Jersey Devils advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals last season. Will they even get that chance this year?
No new negotiations are scheduled between the National Hockey League Players’ Association and the owners before their collective bargaining agreement expires at midnight on Saturday. The two sides exchanged proposals over two days of talks this week.
Players Association executive director Donald Fehr senses a danger, according to USA Today. Fehr says the players are willing to continue playing under the current contract while negotiations are taking place. Revenue sharing appears to be the major issue, as players are currently getting 57 percent. The league started by offering 43 percent, and moved up to 47 percent in its latest proposal.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is prepared to lock out the players again if a deal is not reached this weekend. He said, according to WJLA.com, "We have been clear that the collective bargaining agreement, upon its expiration, needs to have a successful agreement for us to move forward."
The impending lockout will be the league’s fourth work stoppage in 20 years. NHL players took a 24 percent rollback in salaries and accepted a salary cap in the agreement that came after the 2004-2005 season was cancelled. Revenues have risen from $2 billion to $3.3 billion since that contract was signed.
“We need to figure out a system that works better for all of us – for the players, the league and the owners,” said Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, according to NorthJersey.com.
The NHLPA listed 283 players as attending meetings in New York over the past two days. NorthJersey.com listed 14 of them were Devils, including Ryan Carter, David Clarkson, Mark Fayne, Stephen Gionta, Andy Greene, Peter Harrold, Adam Henrique, Jacob Josefson, Adam Larsson, Bryce Salvador, Henrik Tallinder, Mattias Tedenby, Anton Volchenkov and Dainius Zubrus.
“Nobody wants to make a deal and play hockey more than I do,” Bettman said. “This is very hard and I feel terrible about it.”
The NHL season is scheduled to open October 11.