The chances of the NHL and NHLPA reaching an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement by the Sept. 15 deadline dwindled last week when both sides announced that negotiations have recessed with no further talks planned at this point. If an agreement isn’t reached by that deadline, the NHL is on record as saying it will lock out the players as it did in 2004 -- eventually forcing the cancellation of the 2004-05 NHL season.
Whether or not there's a lockout, it’s becoming increasingly likely that the upcoming season won’t start on time.
With so much uncertainty surrounding the CBA talks, it has to be difficult for general managers and players to look ahead to training camp. As far as player personnel decisions, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli acknowledged there has been a decrease in trade talks and free-agency action as the CBA deadline approaches and uncertainty builds. But, he said, he still has a job to do.
“There has been less trade chatter amongst GMs,” Chiarelli told ESPNBoston.com Tuesday. “But you still have to do your job as best you can and prepare.”
In all likelihood, the salary cap will decrease in a new collective bargaining agreement. If the owners get their way, it could be much lower than the $70.2 million cap currently set for the 2012-13 season.
The Bruins are at $68.8 million against that cap, and if the owners’ latest proposal had been accepted by the NHLPA, the new salary cap for the 2012-13 season would have been $58 million -- meaning the Bruins would need to shed $10.8 million in salary.
“It’s in my planning but it hasn’t affected my approach that much,” said Chiarelli. “My position right now is that we have a strong team and a strong core. We’ve tried to and will continue to try to now and after a new CBA is signed to lock up our core guys. That mentality hasn’t changed. I believe that if there is a drastic change to the cap it would be unfortunate, but we have very good players. So we can deal accordingly and still have a strong core in place if necessary.”
Chiarelli would not comment on whether he has begun talks on new contracts for those players or others, but he did say that he is still focused on making sure the team is prepared to run training camp -- which, as of now, is set to begin Sept. 17.
“It’s unfortunate but all I can do and am doing now is focusing on training camp and the logistics of training camp,” Chiarelli said. “We’re still supposed to start as scheduled, so that’s how we approach it.”