“I think every week is important in the process,” Daly said. “I don’t attach a particular significance to this week over last week or next week. I want to play tomorrow.”
After turning down a suggestion from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman to take a two-week break from negotiations, the union requested another meeting with the league. Monday night’s meeting was scheduled on Saturday.
“We could’ve taken a couple of weeks off, I suppose,” Fehr said. “It’s hard for me to see how you make an agreement if you aren’t talking, so you talk. Sometimes it doesn’t lead anywhere, and perhaps very often it doesn’t lead anywhere, but if you aren’t talking it’s 100 percent sure it doesn’t lead anywhere.
“They were willing to have the meeting if we said we wanted to meet. That is about as far as I can go.”
“We’re never going to shut down the process,” he said. “If they think there is a reason to meet and we can make progress, we’re happy to meet. That’s what we told them and that’s what led to today’s meeting.”
It was the first bargaining session between the sides since Nov. 11, when a busy week of negotiating wrapped up with a session that lasted just over an hour and didn’t produce any results. All games through Nov. 30 and the New Year’s Day Winter Classic have been called off.
One area in which the NHL hasn’t budged off its position is in the area of guaranteed dollars to players.
“If their proposal continues to be a guaranteed amount of player-share dollars, we have told them that that is not a proposal that is acceptable to us or would ever to be acceptable to our owners right now,” Daly said. “If that continues to be where we are, we are a long way apart.”
Frustration is building on both sides, and it has spilled over in recent days. The NHL has placed a gag order on its personnel throughout the league, but players are free to speak out, and are welcome to attend any bargaining sessions.
The latest verbal shot toward Bettman and Daly came on Monday when Florida Panthers forward Kris Versteeg was interviewed on a Toronto radio station.
“You’ve got to look for the cancers and you’ve got to cut out the cancers,” Versteeg said during the interview. “I think when you look at Bill Daly and Gary Bettman, they’ve been looting this game for far too long.”
Those remarks came on the heels of Detroit Red Wings defenseman Ian While, referring to the commissioner as an “idiot.”
Daly publicly brushed aside the comments and chalked them up to frustration that is being felt on both sides of the lockout.
“I don’t think either Gary or I take those personally,” Daly said. “I understand there is a lot of frustration in this process. I’m frustrated in terms of being where we are and not playing hockey. I think that’s just human nature.”