“We can’t make them talk about what they don’t want to talk about,” Daly said. “In fairness, we do have to cover these issues if we’re going to reach an agreement. What we’re doing today is important, it’s just not the most important things we can be doing.
“We’ve made at least two consecutive moves in significant dollars in their direction, and they haven’t moved a single dollar in our direction since Aug. 4.”
Former player Mathieu Schneider, now an NHLPA special assistant to the executive director, said Friday morning that there were agreements on more rigorous drug testing, expanding it to parts of the year during which testing is not currently done.
Neither side sees the use of performance-enhancing drugs as a problem in the NHL.
“We’re in agreement that it’s not an issue in our sport,” Schneider said. “I think it’s in the players’ best interest as well as the sport to close off any possible time during the year where players could use.”
Monetary issues are not expected to come up for discussion in this round of talks. Neither side has indicated it is prepared to make a new offer now regarding how to split up the more than $3 billion annual pot of hockey-related revenue.
“In general, when you’re dealing with collective bargaining, when you start to have agreements on smaller issues, it can lead to bigger issues,” Schneider said, “but it’s still too early to say.”
The lockout was put in place on Sept. 16 and Saturday’s talks come two days after the league canceled the remaining preseason games. The regular season is to start Oct. 11.
If a deal isn’t reached soon, regular-season games will be in danger of being lost. The NHL canceled the entire 2004-05 season because of a lockout that eventually led to the collective bargaining agreement that expired this month.
“The calendar continues to tick along,” Daly said. “My guess is as time goes on, regular-season games are at risk. I don’t think it can be any more urgent than where we are now. We’ve had that level of urgency for a long time. In some respects you can meet all you want, but if there is no compromise or no movement or no new proposals I am not sure at the end of the day what you’re meeting over.
“There is a very high degree of urgency certainly on our side. I can’t speak for their side, but I am sure they would tell you there is a degree of urgency there, too.”
“We can discuss the core issues whenever they want to do it,” he said. “Bargaining is not ping pong. There are no rules on who has to serve.”