NHL talks hit a brick wall

NHL talks hit a brick wall
November 11, 2012, 6:00 pm
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New York, NY, USA; NHLPA executive director Don Fehr (center) during a press conference at the 2012 NHLPA summer player meetings at the Marriott Marquis.

(Brad Penner)

Looks like the NHL and its players have hit yet another wall in their negotiations on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Representatives from the league and the union met for a sixth straight day on Sunday, but the negotiating sessions lasted just over an hour before both sides threw their hands in the air in frustration.

“I just don’t, right now, given our opposition to addressing some of these issues, know where we go,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told reporters on Sunday afternoon

Because of Monday night’s Hockey Hall of Fame ceremonies, in which Capitals coach Adam Oates will be inducted, NHLPA executive director Don Fehr and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman will be in Toronto and both have agreed to continue their dialogue, although no formal talks are scheduled.

Fehr has made it clear that the next round of talks would take place in Toronto, home of the NHLPA offices.

Various reports indicated the NHL is willing to negotiate the finer points of its Oct. 18 proposal, but Fehr said that has not been the case in meetings that began on Tuesday.

“The owners made it clear that there is no give with respect to any of their proposals,” Fehr said. “That unless players are prepared to take -- and this is my phrase, not theirs -- down to the comma, that there’s nothing to do.

“We’re past the point of give and take. That’s what I was told Gary (Bettman) said when I was out of the meeting.”

The fact that such language is being exchanged behind closed doors speaks to the communication issues that exist between Bettman and Fehr. Since the start of negotiations, Daly and Steve Fehr have managed to make progress on key issues.

In fact, it was Daly and Steve Fehr who had an informal lunch on Saturday.

If the owners are unwilling to negotiate that Oct. 16 proposal, this stalemate could go on for weeks. Asked if it is true the league is unwilling to bend on its most recent proposal, Daly appeared to skirt the issue.

“We have proposals on the table,” he said. “What we heard from the players’ association is that they’re not interested in our proposals, and that leaves us apart.”