NHL Players Seek Russian KHL Plans if CBA Not Agreed Before Deadline

August 13, 2012

With the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) yet to be signed for the National Hockey League (NHL) before the Sept. 15 deadline, it seems that the NHL players are making back-up plans to play in  four exhibition games featuring NHL players against all-stars from the Russian KHL.

The Sportsnet report said NHLPA head Donald Fehr met with the head of the KHL while in Moscow last week. The NHLPA would not comment on the reports of plans for games in Moscow, Halifax, Quebec City and a “southern Ontario,” arena. The KHL is already sending two teams — Dynamo Moscow and SKA St. Petersburg — to the States to play regular season games at Barclays Center in January.

Fehr was there to brief European-based players on the progress of negotiations with the league toward a new collective bargaining agreement.

He did not have much progress to report.

The NHL’s initial proposal, presented on July 13, asked for significant salary givebacks, a reduction in the revenues that are shared and less flexibility on player contracts.

Thursday, the day of Fehr’s return to the negotiating table, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman made it clear the owners are prepared to lock out the players if an agreement is not reached by Sept.15, the day the current CBA expires.

The union is scheduled to present it’s counter offer to the league Tuesday, when the negotiations resume at the union’s offices in Toronto.

While both sides publicly said they were “optimistic,” a deal can get done by Sept. 15, they admit there is a big gap on the economic issues.

A lockout would be the third work-stoppage in the NHL in 18 years. In the last lockout, which cost the NHL the entire 2004-05 season, the NHLPA helped players find teams spots to play in Europe and Russia. During the 1994 lockout, a team organized by Wayne Gretzky played exhibition games in Europe.