Despite the decision Monday by the NHL Players Association to not reopen its collective bargaining agreement with the league, Mark Stone of the Golden Knights said the players still have issues they would like to address with the owners.
“I think the game is in a great place right now,” Stone, a right wing, said. “At the same time, there are some things that us as players would like to iron out. We’d like to have a few changes.”
Chief among them is lowering escrow, the money taken out of each player’s paycheck to ensure a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenue with the owners.
“We feel that with (NHLPA executive director) Don (Fehr) and our association we’re going to be able to find ways to do that and try to grow our game in a positive way,” Stone said.
The decision not to reopen keeps the deal in place until the end of the 2020-21 season and creates short-term labor peace. A reopening would have caused the CBA to expire following this upcoming season. Both sides are expected to discuss an extension that would give the league longer-term stability as well.
League revenues, franchise valuations and player salaries have risen under the current CBA, and future windfalls are on the horizon. The NHL’s national TV contract expires after the 2020-21 season, and the league anticipates being able to sign an even more lucrative deal in its next contract. Then in the fall of 2021, a Seattle franchise will begin play and bring more jobs and revenue.
Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who has been through two lockouts since debuting in 2003, said he was happy with the decision.
“I think there’s a few points we can improve or talk about when the CBA is up, but overall the game’s growing and it’s been doing well,” said Fleury, whose contract expires the same offseason the CBA now will. “I’m glad we’re not bringing on a stoppage to our game.”
Coach Gerard Gallant said goaltender Oscar Dansk probably will play in the Knights’ next preseason game Thursday against the Los Angeles Kings.
That means goalie prospect Dylan Ferguson likely won’t get into a preseason game. Ferguson, 20, was scheduled to start the team’s preseason opener Sunday, but he “didn’t feel that great,” according to Gallant, and Malcolm Subban played instead.
The Knights gave away Stone bobbleheads Sunday and the team’s highest paid player gave them his endorsement.
“It looked pretty good,” Stone said. “Pretty accurate.”
The Knights will hand out Nate Schmidt (Sept. 25), Jonathan Marchessault (Sept. 27) and William Karlsson (Sept. 29) bobbleheads at their remaining preseason home games.