NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is refuting reports that the league is looking to renegotiate the recently established CBA with the players' association as the sides work toward a plan for the 2020-21 campaign.
"We've been absolutely unequivocal with the players that we're not trying to renegotiate," Bettman said Wednesday, according to Sportsnet's Chris Johnston.
Instead, the league is looking for ways to avoid "stresses on the system," Bettman adds, as players would be paid more than 50% of revenue under the deal that was established before the NHL's restart in August.
"Under our deal, and the one we've had for more than a decade with the players' association, whatever the revenues are the players only get 50%," Bettman said, according to Johnston. "And if we overpay them and they don't pay us back in the short term, they have to pay us back over time.
"There will be stresses on the system and we've had discussions about what those stresses are and how they might be dealt with, but we're not trying to say 'you must do X,Y, and Z.' We're trying to look for ways to continue to work together."
Before the league's August return, the sides agreed to 10% salary deferrals for the 2020-21 campaign and to cap escrow at 20% before lowering it each campaign until 2022-23.
Players have reportedly grown frustrated after the league offered two unfavorable financial proposals in an attempt to renegotiate. The first reportedly asked players to defer 20% of their salaries while escrow increases to 25%. The second asked them to defer 26% for next season, but escrow is left alone until Years 4-6 of the current collective bargaining agreement.
"I know it's been portrayed as something else and it's unfortunate and it's inaccurate, because at the end of the day, if the system gets stressed, it's going to be stressed for us both," Bettman continued.
He also noted the league's target start date of Jan. 1 for the 2020-21 campaign is a "work in progress, influenced largely by medical experts," according to TSN's Frank Seravalli.