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Former NHLPA head thinks it’s “too early” to worry about lockout

Jun 5, 2012, 7:53 PM EDT

Paul Kelly Getty Images

Paul Kelly didn’t run the NHLPA for very long – something he expressed regret about (whether it was his fault or not) – but his connection with the players association still gives him deeper insight on the upcoming CBA negotiations. TSN legal analyst Eric Macramalla spoke with Kelly about a wide variety of those subjects and the general takeaway is that it’s “too early” to worry about a lockout.

Don’t fear the lockout (yet)

Kelly believes that concerns are “premature.”

“I do think it’s too early to start worrying we won’t have hockey come September,” Kelly said.

When asked if the NHL could afford to lock out, Kelly echoed the common belief that a “large number of fans would turn away in disgust.”


“[The] NHL is not going to be out to recreate the CBA,” Kelly said. “It’s not broken. [It doesn’t] need a radical fix.”

I can’t help but agree with that standpoint. Last time around, the NHL proposed an absolutely radical change in the form of a newly instituted salary cap. Sure there are some big potential changes – most notably a possible realignment – but not on that same (extremely contentious) level.

That’s not to say that some teams won’t be strongly proposing much-needed alterations, though. Kelly backs up the belief that lower-budget teams might want the salary cap floor to be relaxed, even saying that 8-12 teams would have had “significantly lower” salaries if not for the minimum.


Kelly had glowing things to say about leadership for the NHLPA, praising Donald Fehr’s experience and Mathieu Schneider’s goals to protect players. The general message is that the players are in “good hands” going into the next CBA.


There’s nothing necessarily “groundbreaking” in what Kelly says, but it’s nice to hear some mostly-reassuring things from a person once on the inside. That doesn’t mean it’ll be an easy process, although it’s a sign that we shouldn’t lose sleep about Lockout 2.0 just yet.

  1. greatminnesotasportsmind - Jun 5, 2012 at 8:28 PM

    I’m sure the same thing was said before the last lockout. You know, the one that lost the ENTIRE season….

  2. itsallniceonice - Jun 5, 2012 at 9:26 PM

    Only thing that worries me is Donald Fehr. Sure he’s got experience but that experience was leading the MLB through a strike.

    • hystoracle - Jun 6, 2012 at 10:17 AM

      Kind of like drafting that can’t miss prospect only to find out his agent is Scott Boras.

  3. barkar942 - Jun 5, 2012 at 11:28 PM

    The last time, the entire CBA process was broken. I personally supported the ownership side in ’04 only because if you try to run a business model that doesn’t allow for owners to profit over the course of a season, at the end there will be no one who will want to own a team, and if you don’t have solid profitability for ownership in any business there will be no business at some point.
    In ’04, a total overhaul of the way the monies were divided were absolutely necessary. If not, there would be a six-team NHL once again.
    After the lockout, the CBA allowed for most owners business sustainability. This time around, I guarantee you neither side wants a work stoppage. The NHL is ever increasing in popularity and either side stopping play would be economic suicide!
    There will be some tweaking and a few power struggles, but at the end of the day, there will be a new CBA with realignment and the players able to go to Sochi in 2014.

  4. hockeyflow33 - Jun 6, 2012 at 10:12 AM

    I liked the fact that there was a hockey guy running the NHLPA. It seems to me you should keep a lot of these things held with people who love the sport.
    I’m not a Bettman hater, I actually think he’s done a fairly good job, but I can’t imagine actual hockey people ever getting to the point where they say scrap the season.

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