The time is coming for the National Hockey League (NHL) and the National Hockey League Players Association (NHLPA) to open up a new Collective Bargain Agreement (CBA).

NHL fans could very well feel the wrath of a CBA termination come the 2020-21 season, pending the NHLPA or owners deciding to opt out of the current agreement, resulting in an infamous lockout.

In the last 30 years, the two parties have yet to come to an agreement without a labour disruption. Will they be able to come to a smooth agreement, or leave us fans lost without NHL hockey for an extensive period of time?

Things are looking good for hockey fans thus far. Commissioner Gary Bettman is optimistic about the current affairs moving forward that they can come to an agreement without having a lockout. The two parties have had preliminary open constructive dialogue about the CBA, however, what’s different this time is the absence of tension. As hockey fans it’s important to be weary of this, as it is only the beginning of what could be a long and stressful year.

A point of contention the NHLPA currently has is escrow. In the current CBA, players and owners receive an equal split of revenue. Escrow is a matter of the players being withheld 10-20% of their salary every season in order to cover any potential shortfalls the league and teams face. After each season, the revenue is calculated and the players may be refunded a portion of the escrow back. In order to solve this, some players want to see a cap freeze. However, that may leave players without a job.

Another point of contention the NHLPA would like to present is Olympic participation for players. In 2017, the NHL made the decision to disallow players to compete in the Olympics. Unfortunately, there was no clause for the NHLPA to back them to let them compete. The players feel passionate about the Olympics as it can only help grow the game. The NHL used the Olympics as a bargaining tool by threatening the player’s salary if they play, essentially leaving the players feeling like pawns.

The new trend in player contracts is giving out big payouts in the form of a signing bonus and then a low salary during the 2020-21 season to protect players from a potential lockout. This lockout anticipation by the players is rather unsettling for us hockey fans.

Being the selfish hockey fans that we are, all we can do is hope that the NHL and NHLPA can come to an agreement before September 15, 2020!