NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said he expects the League to begin talks with the NHL Players Association on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement some time after the All-Star break.
Bettman wouldn't elaborate on the subject when he met with local reporters before Wednesday night's Phoenix-Anaheim game, but indicated the ball will get rolling soon.
The current CBA is set to expire on Sept.15.
"My guess is, at some point, we'll probably sit down -- assuming the union's comfortable doing that," Bettman said. "There's a pretty steep learning curve in terms of the business and the union's standpoint (of) what the players are focused on, and we've been respectful of that process. Whenever they're ready, we're ready. We've been ready."
Bettman said he was only passing through the area and his presence did not have anything to do with the Coyotes' ownership situation. The League owns the franchise and is trying to sell it with a priority on keeping the club in Glendale, Ariz.
Bettman did not characterize a timeline to remedy the situation and said, "Our hope is that we can bring it to a conclusion in the not too distant future. Nothing imminent, but it's still a work in progress and there's no significant development that I'm in a position to report. We think we're doing the right thing. We've had tremendous support by the city of Glendale. It's a complicated process, and we're going to continue to pursue it."
Bettman touched on several other topics, including player safety and the high number of concussions this season. He restated that the League has been more proactive and addressed the rash of head injuries.
"That's in part a function of the fact that we're doing a much better job of reporting, diagnosing and treating," he said. "When you think about it, the education factor that the League is going through and the players has changed the culture so that players are more willing to admit it that they've had a concussion and get treated. I think that's all very important."
Bettman cited the videos done by Brendan Shanahan
, Senior Vice President, Player Safety and Hockey Operations, for providing clarity and backed Shanahan for having "an extremely difficult job" that has made observers more appreciative of former disciplinarian Colin Campbell
He also joked of Shanahan that "he's aged probably five years in the last five months."
As for Campbell?
"I've seen him smile more in the last five months than he has in the prior decade," Bettman said.
Lastly, Bettman threw cold water, so to speak, on the idea of an outdoor game in Southern California.
"That's nothing against the area," he said. "I just think, the weather … it wouldn't be conducive."