Last week, a frustrated and visibly shaken NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told reporters that forging a new Collective Bargaining Agreement with the league’s players was like chasing his own tail and that he was taking the owners’ latest offer off the table.
Apparently, that offer was placed back on the bargaining table on Wednesday, when the two sides met with federal mediators in Woodbridge, N.J. in an effort to reach common ground and end the NHL’s 88-day lockout.
According to multiple reports, representatives from the owners and players’ union met separately for more than six hours with federal mediators Scot L. Beckenbaugh and John Sweeney, but did not meet together and did not exchange proposals.
Following the afternoon sessions with mediators, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said there were no new proposals and nothing to report.
It is entirely possible that Bettman told mediators that the offer owners made last Thursday night, which calls for a 10-year agreement with an opt-out at Year 8, is a take-it-or-leave-it offer.
If that’s the case, union leader Don Fehr could take that offer back to the players for a vote.
The owners sweetened the offer on their “make whole” provision, increasing the total from $211 million to $300 million, but remain firm on their desire to place a five-year limit on future player contracts.
Barring any kind of resolution Wednesday night, the two sides could meet with mediators again on Thursday.
In addition to Fehr and special counsel Steve Fehr, the union was represented by 13 players Craig Adams, Adrian Aucoin, Brad Boyes, Chris Campoli, Mathieu Darche, Shane Doan, Ron Hainsey, Jamal Mayers, Andy MacDonald, Steve Montador, Brendan Morrison, Douglas Murray and Daniel Winnik.