11/12/2012 9:59:00 PM CHL, players agree on new collective bargaining agreement
Special to the Courier
The Central Hockey League announced Monday that team owners have voted in favor of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and have reached an agreement with the Professional Hockey Players' Association (PHPA).
The agreement was reached in principle prior to the start of the 2012-13 regular season, and was voted on by CHL member teams and a majority of the players in the past week.
"We are pleased to move forward with this agreement with the PHPA, and thank the CHL owners for their hard work, vision and patience during this process," CHL commissioner Duane Lewis said in a statement. "I would also like to thank the players for their efforts in reaching this agreement. Our season is already under way, and CHL fans are enjoying the highest level of professional hockey the CHL has experienced. We look forward to the remainder of the 2012-13 season."
Many of the provisions in the previous CBA will continue in the new agreement including REDLINE Membership Assistance Program (a 24/7/365 counseling service for players), Career Enhancement Program for players wishing to advance their education, and off-ice health insurance for players and their families.
Main financial components such as salary cap, salary floor and the league's minimum salary remained unchanged from the previous CBA while alterations were made to the injured reserve system as well as the Christmas break.
"We are happy to get this deal in place and look forward to an exciting year of CHL action," Larry Landon, PHPA Executive Director said. "We wanted to negotiate a deal where players would feel comfortable competing, knowing that they would receive appropriate off-ice care and insurance benefits.
The CHL is currently playing its 21st season. Last year the league welcomed more than 2 million fans, and averaged 4,042 during the regular season and 4,427 during the postseason, both accounting for the highest attendance averages in the past five years in the league.
Over the past two years, the CHL has celebrated 122 sellouts, the most during any two-year period in the 20-year history of the league, led by the 2011 and 2012 CHL Franchise of the Year winner, the Missouri Mavericks, who have 36 combined regular-season sellouts in the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons.
The CHL has had 69 call-ups to the American Hockey League over the past two seasons, and just last year, former CHL players Brian Foster (Florida Panthers), Jordie Benn (Dallas Stars) and Ryan Garbutt (Dallas Stars) made their NHL debuts joining the likes of David Schlemko (Phoenix Coyotes), Keith Aucoin (Washington Capitals), Andrew Desjardins (San Jose Sharks), Joel Martin (New York Islanders) and many others as former CHL players that made it to the NHL.
The CHL has also played a strong role in developing on-ice officials with three former CHL full-time officials signing NHL contracts over the past two seasons (John Grandt, Mark Lemelin and Jon McIsaac). Other former CHL officials in the NHL include David Brisebois, Gord Dwyer, Frederick L'Ecuyer.