The collective bargaining agreement that was agreed on during the canceled 2004-05 season is set to expire Sept. 15, and the NHL Players Association is set to begin negotiations for a new deal with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, according to CBC.
As many as 55 players could be at the annual meetings for executive board members of the players association scheduled for next week in Chicago. Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews are among those reportedly leading the charge.
Under the new leadership of Donald Fehr, the players association figures to be more prepared for this round of negotiations. The last time the players association attempted to hammer out a labor agreement, Bob Goodenow was the union's leader, and only seven players were on the committee.
Fehr and Bettman will be the two main negotiators, and while nothing is certain at this point, the chances of avoiding a lockout and getting a deal in place are more positive this summer than they were in 2004.