Inside the NHL: Are players, cash-strapped owners heading for an ugly faceoff?

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NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.

AP Photo

Mike Harrington

We’re about to find out if hockey is going to learn a lesson from baseball or go down the same road.

It seems like a Jan. 1 start to the hockey season is optimistic at this point, especially as we’ve learned in recent days from multiple reports that the NHL wants to reopen the new CBA it just signed with the players in July before it opens training camps. Baseball hit similar snags over player pay for a shortened season before finally starting its 60-game slate on July 23. 

The NHL is likely to play a much bigger percentage of its season than MLB, perhaps as many as 60 of the 82 scheduled games, but owners are still looking to cut down on their cash outlays because of the fear fans may not be in the buildings at the start of the season and for a long way into the schedule.

As part of the CBA, players agreed to defer 10% of their salaries for this season and cap escrow payments of their money at 20% for this year, sliding down to 10% by 2022-23 and 6% in the final three years of the deal. But as first reported by Larry Brooks of the New York Post, the league reportedly asked the players to defer another chunk of salary – as much as 13% according to…

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