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NHL enforces temporary pay cuts among staff, HBSE reinstates full salaries in u-turn

The National Hockey League has asked its staff to take pay cuts following the indefinite suspension of the league amid the global Covid-19 pandemic.

According to ESPN and Bloomberg, the NHL is temporarily cutting the pay of league office employees who make more than $75,000 a year by 25 per cent starting April 1. The move applies to league personnel, such as NHL executives, not team staff members and players.

The league is eyeing potential scenarios for a resumption of play. But with the public health crisis continuing to grow in scale, particularly within the US, any timetable remains tentative at best.

The NHL is following the lead briefly set by Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, the managing company of the National Basketball Association’s Philadelphia 76ers and NHL’s New Jersey Devils.

On March 23, HBSE announced it was asking at-will employees who make more than $50,000 a year take pay cuts of up to 20 per cent through the end of June. However, after a huge public backlash, the ownership group quickly performed an about-turn and abandoned the initiative less than 24 hours later.

HBSE co-owner Josh Harris said in a statement: “Our commitment has been to do our best to keep all of our employees working through this very difficult situation. As part of an effort to do that we asked salaried employees to take a temporary 20-per-cent pay cut while preserving everyone’s full benefits – and keeping our 1,500 hourly workers paid throughout the regular season. After listening to our staff and players, it’s clear that was the wrong decision.

“We have reversed it and will be paying these employees their full salaries. This is an extraordinary time in our world – unlike any most of us have ever lived through before – and ordinary business decisions are not enough to meet the moment. To our staff and fans, I apologize for getting this wrong,” Harris said.

Elsewhere, Montreal Canadiens owners Groupe CH announced it is temporarily laying off 60 per cent of employees while the NHL season is suspended. A $6m assistance fund has been established to make sure employees receive 80 per cent of their salary for eight weeks and provide loans for staff in financial need.

Groupe CH owner Geoff Molson said in a statement: “We are working extremely hard to limit the impact this situation will have on our employees.”

Groupe CH also owns the American Hockey League’s Laval Rocket. The AHL is suspended indefinitely.