In addition to the three main issues (the length of the Collective Bargaining Agreement , the length of player contracts and the transition rules for the salary cap), the participation of NHL players in the Olympics, the international calendar and drug testing, are the other essential elements that remain on the table.
These questions are not trivial, since they are likely to benefit from exceptional media interest in a very near future.
Indeed, the Olympic question will haunt the NHL in the coming months, as the next Winter Olympics are at the gates, with Sochi in 2014. This is a very sensitive issue for homeowners. Indeed, the participation of their players in the Olympic Games is more a thorn in their feet than anything else. With players absent (which invariably disrupts the official play calendar) but also with the risk of exponentially increased injury, it is certainly not with bursting joy at heart that the teams will agree to send their best players to the Olympic Games.
But the owners know they have little leeway in this matter. Sport sociologists have underlined since ever, the importance (rightly or wrongly) of patriotism in sport. That is why the owners cannot afford to put this emotionally charged point open. This is a crucial point for owners.
However, conversely, the players do not need that the Olympic question be settled in right now in the CBA. A negotiating tactic for the players? Likely.
The other ultra-sensitive and complex point remains the issue of doping. Nobody wants to talk about this. The question of doping remains a huge taboo in the world of hockey. The pressure comes from the outside.
A real Pandora’s Box. But this box will eventually open. The NHL has the choice to discreetly clean its household by establishing its own (but true) anti-doping rules or be publicly humiliated by any anti-doping agency. A war of jurisdictions will have to be expected then, as in the world of cycling. And this will not be very pretty.