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LIVE! From Montreal, It's All-Star Friday

Stanleyc2 MONTREAL -- Greetings from a frigid Montreal, home of this year's NHL All-Star Game.

Have already enjoyed a muffin and cup of joe from Tim Hortons and am ready to begin this day in earnest.

In a few minutes, the Western Conference All-Stars will be joining us at the Hotel Fairmont and I'll have some news and notes from that. Will be talking to a number of the All-Stars, so check back here throughout the day as I should have new posts as we go.

The big news today comes from a report in the Toronto Star in which it reports the NHLPA will not reopen the Collective Bargaining Agreement as was its right, and there will be labor peace in the NHL for a little while longer.

Not much Southeast representation here (as usual), although if you're into the Washington Capitals, Tarik El-Bashir of the Washington Post is here and is chatting live about all things Ovechkin. Go on over, say hello. And tell him G sent ya.

Here's the press release from the union:

TORONTO/MONTREAL (January 23, 2009) – The Executive Board of the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) announced today that the NHLPA has declined to exercise its option to terminate the current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) following the 2008-09 season.  The current CBA between the NHLPA and the National Hockey League will remain in effect for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons.

The announcement was made at a media conference in Montreal by NHLPA Executive Director Paul Kelly.  Mr. Kelly was joined by Ian Penny, General Counsel, Glenn Healy, Director of Player Affairs and NHLPA members Michael Komisarek, Alex Kovalev, Vincent Lecavalier, Sheldon Souray, Joe Thornton and Jonathan Toews.

The NHLPA’s Executive Board, which consists of one Player Representative from each of the 30 NHL teams, held a conference call on Thursday January 22, 2009 to vote on the union’s option to terminate – or “re-open” – the CBA.  The Executive Board vote follows an in-depth analysis of the current Agreement and several external factors, including the present state of the world economy.  The NHLPA’s option to re-open the CBA was also a main topic of discussion last summer during the NHLPA’s annual North American and European Player Meetings, as well as during the NHLPA’s recent fall tour meetings.  

“Today’s announcement that the NHLPA’s membership is committed to playing under the CBA for two more years is great news for all hockey fans,” said Paul Kelly, NHLPA Executive Director.  “While the NHLPA’s membership has issues with the current Agreement, the players and their Executive Board decided that due to the current economic conditions as well as the players’ focus on continuing to help grow this game and expose our great athletes to many more fans, now is not the appropriate time to enter complex labour negotiations.”

The current CBA was reached in July 2005 following the NHL owners’ lockout that resulted in the cancellation of the 2004-05 season.  Under the terms of the current Agreement, the players had an option to terminate the CBA as of September 15, 2009.  By declining to exercise its right to re-open the CBA, the Players have ensured that the current Agreement with the NHL will remain in effect through the conclusion of the 2010-11 season.  The NHLPA had until May 18, 2009 to inform the league of its decision. 

The NHLPA also has the option to extend the current Agreement for one year, through the conclusion of the 2011-12 season.