NHL lockout 2012: Labor talks resume, progress still limited

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Neither side wants to agree to anything, or make concessions in one single area, without knowing how those will affect other parts of the CBA that still needs to be negotiated.

“Our position all along has been on the player contracting issues that they become considerably more important to players as the cap becomes limited,” Fehr said. “We made proposals in a couple of areas in this regard, which moved toward them, but we wanted to talk about the rest of these to see where we were. We indicated to them the last time we met and again today that if we put aside for a moment the effect of the lockout on revenues — we didn’t think we were too far apart on the share — and if that was right we can back into a discussion on the revenues. We wanted to know where we were on the player contracting stuff first, and they were unwilling to do that — at least tonight.”

Fehr said the NHLPA would consider the NHL’s request for a full proposal, and try to figure out what the next step will be. No one would say if they thought such an offer would come Tuesday.

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.

“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.”

Daly said the NHL is always willing to listen if the players have something meaningful to say.

“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 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 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. “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 White, referring to the commissioner as an “idiot.”

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