California has already expanded the American Hockey League’s geographic footprint.
Now, it’s complicating the collective bargaining agreement.
The prior CBA had been in place since 2010. It was set to expire last summer, but the AHL used it’s league option to extend the agreement with the PHPA into the 2014-15 season.
Now with five California-based teams playing less games than the rest of the league, a simple extension for the 2015-16 season isn’t a possibility.
“Not too much I can say about it right now, but it’s certainly made it a bit more complicated,” said Maxime Fortunus, a PHPA player representative and former Texas Stars captain. “Right now it’s hard to finalize things when so much still has to be determined.”
Under the prior CBA — and throughout AHL history — all teams were on an even playing field when it came to games played.
Now all contracts aren’t created equal.
The number hasn’t been finalized, but it’s believed the California teams will play 68 games while the rest of the league will play 76.
On a pro-rated basis, contracts in California are worth more with less games. It also becomes an issue about qualifying for the playoffs, where the Golden State teams are playing less games than divisional opponents in Texas.
“We have to find what’s fair for all the players,” Fortunus said. “I think we’ll know a lot more after (AHL) meetings in July.”
The AHL will finalize the playoff format at those meetings held in South Carolina, and it could resemble the NHL’s divisional approach to the postseason.
Fortunus did say the PHPA has met with AHL President and CEO Dave Andrews about the CBA.
“Both sides know the other is looking for the best deal, but it’s all very respectful,” Fortunus said.
Andrews and AHL officials weren’t available to discus the 2015-16 league structure or CBA until after the July meetings.