Continued from page 1

Fehr and his associates left the offices of the NHL’s lawyers, where the negotiations took place, to conduct a conference call with players.

“We’ve got some things to consider and need to talk to our membership,” Fehr said before the call.

Bettman said the league is ready to continue talking as soon as the union wants.

“Whatever it takes. We’re available,” Bettman said. “It’s always better to be together and talk when there is something to talk about. I am not getting into the specifics. When you’re in a process like this, you’re really not watching the calendar. I’m not sure I can tell you what day it is.”

That could change soon if a deal isn’t struck.

The 55-day-old lockout has already caused the league to call off 327 regular-season games, including the New Year’s Day Winter Classic in Michigan, and the NHL has said a full season won’t be played. The league is in danger of having a lockout wipe out a full season for the second time in seven years.

Bettman declined to say if these talks have moved the sides any closer to an agreement.

“I am not going into the details of what takes place in the room,” he said. “I really apologize but I do not think it would be constructive to the process. I don’t want to either raise or lower expectations. I won’t be happy until we get to the end result, and that means we’re playing again.”

Bettman is scheduled to attend Hockey Hall of Fame inductions Monday night in Toronto, but developments in negotiations could prevent that.

“That’s my plan (to attend), but if there is a reason to be doing something else, as much as I enjoy the Hall of Fame inductions, if there is something else that is pending, that would take precedence.”

The lockout began Sept. 16 after the collective bargaining agreement expired, and both sides rejected proposals Oct. 18. The players’ association has agreed to a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenues, but that division wouldn’t kick in until the third year of the deal.

During a second consecutive day of marathon negotiations Wednesday, the players’ association made an offer on revenue sharing in which richer teams would help out poorer organizations, and another proposal regarding the “make-whole” provision that would guarantee full payment of all existing multiyear player contracts.

Revenue sharing and the make-whole provision are major hurdles. Both sides have made proposals that included a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenues. The NHL has moved toward the players’ side on the “make-whole” provision and whose share of the economic pie that money will come from.

The NHLPA estimates that about $590 million is needed to guarantee the amount left to be paid to players on the “make-whole” provision, but so far the league is only offering $211 million.

Along with the split of hockey-related revenue and other core economic issues, contract lengths, arbitration and free agency also must be agreed upon.

Story Continues →