By Ben Raby
Two days after the NHL rejected the NHLPA’s latest proposal to end the lockout, Players Association executive director Don Fehr says he’s eager to return to the negotiating table.
“It’s up to [the owners],” Fehr told reporters in Toronto Saturday. “The one thing we know for certain is that you can’t make agreements if you’re not talking about it.”
Fehr spent Day 84 of the lockout addressing members of the Canadian Auto Workers union at a Toronto hotel.
“I can’t tell you when [the lockout] is going to end,” he told the audience. “I can tell you that the only way it can end is it to keep at the process and hope that eventually we’re able to find a way through the issues that are there.”
TSN reported Sunday that NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly and NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr have spoken over the weekend, but that no formal talks are scheduled.
“We think we’re either done on the dollars, or at least very close it, with the exception of one issue called ‘transition’ which we haven’t even discussed yet,” Don Fehr said.
“It seems to me that we ought to be able to move forward and try to finish it off. So far at least they have not indicated a willingness to continue discussions.”
The NHL has cancelled all games through Dec. 14, with additional cancellations potentially on the way in the coming days.
Commissioner Gary Bettman said Thursday that anything less than a 48-game season would not work. The first lockout under Bettman’s watch ended Jan. 11, 1995 with an abbreviated 48-game campaign played from Jan. 20- May 3. It remains the latest date the NHL has ever ended its regular-season.
“I’ll just conclude,” Fehr said to the Canadian Auto Workers union, “by asking if anybody has a brilliant idea how to solve the lockout, don’t keep it to yourself.”
A member in the audience then called out “fire Bettman,” to a roar of approval.