Health is a relative thing in the National Hockey League.
There is the $3.3 billion worth of business the league did this year, according to commissioner Gary Bettman’s account Wednesday prior to Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final.
Then there is the swollen $70 million-plus salary cap that a $3.3-billion pot might translate to, under the current 57/43 per cent players/owners split, a figure that is certain to lead to acrimony when the current collective bargaining agreement is reopened this summer.
The NHL vs the NHLPA part two?
Simultaneous with the opening of the 2012 Stanley Cup final, Gary Bettman and Don Fehr unofficially announced on Tuesday the beginning of their first collective bargaining joust.
Nice juxtaposition, the game and the business. Never far apart.
Without either side being too stuck on precise details, the NHL and NHL Players Association will begin talks aimed out hammering a new CBA in late June or early July, probably no earlier than after the draft in Pittsburgh. It’s the first round of talks of this magnitude between the two sides in almost seven years, and the first with Bettman across from Fehr, the former head of the baseball union.
To referee or not to referee? That is a question.
The NHL will address the always controversial state of officiating - and the perception that standard of enforcement slipped during the 2011-12 season - at a special August summit meeting featuring representatives from the league’s general managers, coaches, players and officials.
According to Colin Campbell, the NHL’s senior vice-president of hockey operations, the summer get-together will replace the annual research and development camp, and will try to clarify exactly teams want the game called.