Report: Season on the brink as NHL threatens to cancel and agent counters with lawsuits

NHL threatens to cancel the season (Getty Images)

The NHL wanted a decision from the NHLPA at the end of November in order to start the season on January 1. Faced with giving up more money than they originally agreed to in July, the players stood firm and refused to renegotiate the CBA.

NHL could use ‘Force Majeure’ and cancel the season

According to TSN’s Insider Trading, the NHL feels they have cancellation protection due to the pandemic. In law that is called ‘Force Majeure’, which prevents one side to fulfill a contract due to unforeseeable circumstances.

Darren Dreger did reiterate that neither side wants to cancel the season, but if that’s the case why even mention ‘Force Majeure’? This prompted a serious response from one of hockey’s super agents, Allan Walsh.

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NHL risks billions in lawsuits if they try to cancel the season

nhl threatens to cancel season
NHL (NHLI)

In a Twitter thread, Allan Walsh broke down his thoughts on the NHL floating ‘Force Majeure’ to the media and how he and the players should respond.

The NHL is soft floating the idea with media if no deal with the NHLPA is reached on the Return to Play, it can unilaterally invoke Force Majeure and cancel the 2020-21 season.

There are so many flaws to this, I don’t know where to start. Does the NHL really think it can demand an additional $300M in concessions from players after negotiating the financial terms of the 20-21 season DURING the pandemic 4 months ago?

The Players agreed to accept 72% of their contracts due to the pandemic. NHL owners cannot now assert they don’t like the deal, demand $300M more from the Players and if the Players don’t give in, cancel the season by invoking Force Majeure?

In reality, if the NHL cancels the 20-21 season because the Players won’t give another $300M in concessions, that is a LOCKOUT, which is expressly prohibited by CBA Art. 7.1 (b).

In his final tweet, Walsh delivered the knockout blow.

If the NHL lawyers are advising owners they have a winning case here, I suggest they go back to law school. Owners will be subjecting themselves to billions in potential damages if they falsely invoke Force Majeure to cancel the season.

Will there be a hockey season?

There is a lot of harsh rhetoric being thrown around at the moment. However, the damage both sides would be doing to the game by cancelling would be difficult to fix.

Fans are clamoring for a hockey season. In normal times we would be already two months into the excitement that great goals, big hits, and spectacular saves bring. There is a huge appetite by fans to watch hockey and both sides know it.

My gut says that they will come to an agreement within the next 5-10 days. The NHL RTP committee has been meeting and told Pierre Lebrun that they expect a season start date between January 20 and February 1.

What’s done is done. The NHL owners whether they like it or not signed an agreement four months ago. This doesn’t look good for them. And yes, the players can help out by giving up a little more in deferment, but raising the escrow is out of the question.

Sit down. Hammer out an agreement. Move forward. And game on.

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