Throughout the summer, Jason Chimera stayed up to date on the NHL’s labor negotiations. He followed the NHLPA’s correspondences, spoke with the union’s divisional representatives regularly, attended a bargaining session in mid-July and made sure he was fully informed of how the talks were going.
Despite Chimera’s interest in the subject matter, though, he won’t be in New York on Wednesday and Thursday, when more than 250 players are expected to gather just days before the collective bargaining agreement expires.
Instead he’ll be taking his son, Cale, to the first day of preschool.
“There’s still some things in life that are more important than CBA talks,” Chimera said. “I’d rather take my kid to school than go listen to bad news.”
At this point, there seems to be little reason for optimism. If there is no new collective bargaining agreement in place when the current one expires at 11:59 p.m. Saturday, the NHL plans impose a lockout on players.
Players continue to state their objection to a stoppage while reiterating their willingness to negotiate without disrupting training camp and season schedules. In addition to the vocal protests, in Canada the NHLPA is trying to challenge the league’s ability to lockout players in the provinces of Quebec (more from the Montreal Gazette) and Alberta (more from the Edmonton Journal) based on the labor laws there.
“As players we want to play, kind of keep it going and hammer out a new one while we play,” said Chimera, who is one of four players on the Capitals’ roster who experienced the 2004-05 lockout as an NHLer. “If they lock us out it’s going to be pretty unfortunate. I think the game’s going too well for us to be locked out.
“I hope [any work stoppage is] short. I hope we lose no time,” Chimera continued. “I’d be ashamed to lose one game, that’s for sure. As players, we put a proposal together that solved problems of the teams they say are struggling, that helps put money in their pockets.”
Since the two sides halted formal negotiations on Aug. 31, there hasn’t been much progress to speak of, but here are a few articles pertaining to the possible lockout and the labor talks that you shouldn’t miss:
— From Wednesday’s dead-tree edition, check out my story on how Capitals players are bracing for a lockout and what other playing options they might have.
— TSN’s Bob McKenzie has one of the most detailed breakdowns of the issues at play in these negotiations, including plenty of info on the proposals submitted by both sides so far. But to be certain, McKenzie is not painting a picture of hope that the two groups will reconcile soon:
“These two sides are not speaking the same language. Not even close. One might as well be talking Mandarin while the other is speaking Swahili.”
— The KHL changed their guidelines for allowing teams to sign NHL players during a lockout. They’re rather, uh, interesting. Puck Daddy’s Dmitry Chesnokov has the details.