Tuesday, September 4, 2012
CBA talk: Moving the start of free agency
By Pierre LeBrun
Back from summer holidays in time for some CBA fun, eh?
While we wait for the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association to resume talks -- no scheduled sessions at this point -- here’s a little nugget I found interesting from the summer’s negotiating sessions: The league has proposed to the NHLPA to have free agency start July 10 instead of the long-standing July 1 opening day, two sources told ESPN.com.
Small potatoes compared to the big economic issues both sides are arguing about, but nonetheless interesting at least to me.
For years, many of us have talked about how silly it was for the NHL to conduct some of its biggest business on July 1, a national holiday in hockey-mad Canada, and just a few days from the July 4 U.S. holiday. Talk about not maximizing your coverage for big signings.
And yes, I will admit for the sake of full disclosure that I have continually harangued NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and second-in-command Bill Daly about this very issue.
My preference would be to have free agency start in late June, sometime around June 26 or 27. Generally (though not this year with Parise/Suter), the big boys have signed 48 hours in, so we’d be free of the big hockey news by the July 1 and July 4 holidays if free agency started June 26 or 27.
The league, though, in its current proposal, opted to push back the start of free agency to July 10; my guess being that clubs would feel things would be too compressed otherwise given that the entry draft is usually the third week of June.
My suspicion is that the NHLPA would likely not look kindly on moving the start of free agency 10 days into July. Shortening the window for any of its free-agent members to find work isn’t that appealing to the union. At least it hasn’t been in the past when the league has brought up the notion.
As I said, I would prefer to see the start of free agency go backward into June, but July 10 still beats July 1 in my books.