With the current contract with the National Hockey League and the players union expiring on Sept. 15, one encouraging sign has taken place as both sides will begin talking in New York on Friday to try and work out a new deal.
“It will be good just to get things going and start meeting and start talking,” Wings forward Justin Abdelkader said. “I think everyone is kind of eager for it to start.”
Abdelkader, along with Pavel Datsyuk, were among 56 players that attended three days of executive board meetings by the players association in Chicago that ended on Wednesday.
“You can say whatever you want, but until you sit down to the table and get down to the nitty gritty and start talking, nothing’s going to happen,” Abdelkader said.
The last time the NHL and union tried to negotiate a deal it lead to the cancellation of the 2004-05 season. Play resumed the following season with both sides agreeing to a salary cap.
“I don’t really know what to think,” Abdelkader said. “I wasn’t really part of the last negotiations. I don’t know what to really expect. As we go on throughout the summer, I think we’ll learn more and see more.”
One good sign that a lockout won’t occur is that NHLPA executive director Don Fehr said that the season could start without a new CBA if both sides agree to continue talks beyond the expiration of the current deal.
“It was really informative,” Abdelkader said. “It was great to just come here and represent my team, represent the league and players. It’s something I’m really intrigued by and interested in, just learning how things go. It’s just really good information to have and something that going forward will be good for me.”
Abdelkader attended the meeting because Niklas Kronwall, the Wings’ player representative, could not attend.
“He asked if I could come and I said I was planning on coming either way, if he could come or not,” Abdelkader said. “I think you saw a lot of the head reps and the (alternate) reps here as part of the executive board. Either way I was going to be coming. It’s informative and it’s part of our union and league and I’d just like to know what’s going on.”
However, it was Henrik Zetterberg who was named to the NHLPA’s 31-player negotiating committee
The key issues are unclear, but the NHL reportedly will try to lower the players’ stake in overall league revenue, which currently is 57 percent.