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Finally! The NHL and the NHLPA are going to meet again!

By Tom

Here’s a quick post to highlight the fact that the National Hockey League and the NHL Players Association will be sitting down to talk on Friday.  This marks the first formal collective bargaining agreement-related meeting between the two sides since the NHL locked out their players on September 15.

Let’s keep this meeting in perspective, however: The parties will not be discussing “core economic issues” – things like revenue splitting, revenue sharing, salary caps, etc. – at all.  Well, these matters not on the agenda.

If the NHL and the NHLPA aren’t going to talk about any of the issues that ostensibly caused the current stalemate, though…ummmm…what’s left to talk about? Per the above-linked CBC article, here’s a potential list of items that still need collective bargaining attention:

- grievances
- system arbitration
- on-ice issues
- off-ice discipline
- drug testing
- training camp
- off-season conditioning camps
- workers’ compensation
- medical
- travel
- pension and insurance
- scheduling

All important issues, to be sure.  (This Columbus Blue Jackets fan wonders if “scheduling” also means “realignment”…?)  Seeing as they’re not talking about money, however, I can’t help but think that both sides are appreciating the poor optics of not talking – at all – while exhibition games are being cancelled and regular season games are in jeopardy.

So they’re meeting, if only to say that they met.  The optimist in me, however, thinks that perhaps there’s more.

Perhaps talking about these less significant issues can help in moving the owners and players past silly and counterproductive labor-management statements like those coming from the Detroit Red Wings’ Jimmy Devellano.

Perhaps this meeting, talking over the little things, will spur constructive dialogue on the big things that will open the training camps, get the players back on the ice and fill the stands with excited fans once again.

Perhaps.  Just perhaps.

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