NHL Files Compaint Against NHLPA

The National Hockey League formally filed an “unfair labor practice” complaint with the National Labor Relations Board against the NHL Players’ Association on Friday. The league is contesting the NHLPA’s apparent policy that any NHLPA member who were to become a replacement player next season would have to pay back the “stipend” he is receiving from the union during the lockout.

Players are receiving approximately $10,000 each month but the PA has reportedly told members that they would be asked to give the money back if they play as a replacement player next season.

NHL executive vice-president Bill Daly called the NHLPA policy “coercive” and in opposing “the players’ rights under the labour laws to decide individually whether to be represented by a union.”

An NHLPA spokesperson had this reaction to the news: “The NHLPA confirms that the NHL has filed an unfair labour practice charge with the U.S. National Labor Relations Board. The NHLPA will have no further comment while the matter is reviewed by the NLRB other than to say we are confident the NHL’s actions and allegations are without merit.”

NHL Entry Draft Cancelled

The National Hockey League announced on Thursday the cancellation of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. The draft had been scheduled to be hosted by the Ottawa Senators on June 25-26.

Without a collective bargaining agreement in place, the league cannot legally hold a draft. With no end to the league’s lockout of the players in site, the hotel rooms required for draft attendees could no longer be held.

“If you’re going to continue to block off those rooms, it’s going to cost our business partners just too many business dollars,” Ottawa Senators president and CEO Roy Mlakar said.

The draft could still be held in the form of a teleconference if a CBA is put in place in time for the 2005-06 season.

League Presents Two Offers to Players

During a Thursday meeting between the National Hockey League and the NHL Players’ association, the league’s owners made two new collective bargaining agreement proposals to the union. Both offers included a salary cap.

One offer centered around a de-linked cap set at $37.5 million. The league’s last offer in February included a de-linked cap at $42.5 million.

The second offer proposed a linked cap at 54% of league revenues, down from the 55% included in the league’s most recent linked offer.

After the meeting, the NHL released the following statement:

“We made another collective bargaining proposal today which offered the Union a choice of two approaches for moving forward,” Daly said. “The first proposal was based on the ‘de-linked’ salary cap framework that was on the table when the season was cancelled in mid-February. We indicated that to the extent this was a framework that the Union remained interested in pursuing, the League would be prepared to continue negotiations — provided an agreement could be achieved within the next several weeks.

“Alternatively, we proposed a negotiated relationship between total Player Compensation and League-wide revenues, which we made clear was our preference.

“The Union deferred responding to our new proposal, pending internal discussions it intends to conduct over the next week. We will have no further comment at this time regarding the precise details of our proposal.”

The Players’ Association also released a statement.

“Last week, Gary (Bettman) asked me how to resume discussions for a new CBA. I told Gary to bring forward any proposal that he believed would be of interest to the players. Today, Gary gave us two salary cap proposals. Both proposals were very similar to ones that we previously rejected several times. We will be determining our next steps and responding at the appropriate time.”

With the 2004-05 season cancelled, the owners would like to have a new CBA in place in time for the NHL Entry Draft. The players, who wouldn’t be paid after the season ended anyway, could wait longer.