Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Talks 'please' Bettman

Tension prevails as players, owners clear the decks to keep bargaining

  • Print

NEW YORK -- A wave of optimism gave way to tension as the NHL and NHL Players' Association spent a second straight day trying to hammer out a collective bargaining agreement.

The sides exchanged proposals during a series of brief meetings Wednesday afternoon, according to sources, in a bid to close the final gap in negotiations that have spanned more than five months.

 

The urgency was evident as a group of six league owners shuffled between internal meetings and short sessions with players and union staff at a hotel in midtown Manhattan. At one point, Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs could be seen having an animated conversation with deputy commissioner Bill Daly outside the negotiating room. Meantime, players paced the halls while speaking on their cellphones.

Even though the specific details of the new offers weren't known, one aspect revealed another hurdle the sides have to cross -- the length of the contract. The league's proposal called for a 10-year term while the NHLPA continued to favour a shorter deal, according to sources.

With tensions rising, commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr kept themselves out of negotiation sessions for a second straight day. However, Bettman did provide a brief update to reporters after a two-hour gathering of the board of governors, saying he was "pleased" with how things were progressing.

That was about all he was willing to reveal.

"We are pleased with the process that is ongoing, and out of respect for that process, I don't have anything else to say and I'm not going to take any questions," Bettman said.

The two sides have cleared their schedules for the rest of the week after getting an adjournment from Quebec Labour Board hearings that had been scheduled in Montreal for today and Friday.

That panel will only hear arguments about the legality of locking out members of the Montreal Canadiens if a deal can't be reached in the near future.

There was a sense that remained a possibility following the first gathering of NHL owners since the lockout was enacted in September.

"We feel good about the information we got," said Columbus Blue Jackets president John Davidson.

Toronto Maple Leafs minority owner Larry Tanenbaum is one of six owners who became involved in the talks this week.

"As long as we're talking, we're hopeful," he said.

According to sources, the owners discussed a possible season that would span 50-plus games. There had been talk of a 60-game schedule in the event of a labour settlement, but the feeling among the group was that would be too ambitious at this stage.

Progress appeared to be made during more than eight hours of meetings Tuesday that ended with NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr describing it as the best day yet in talks.

It was difficult to carry that momentum through a second long day, especially with the league and union trading specific proposals and looking for compromise.

After the NHLPA tabled an offer late last month, the sides were separated by $182 million over five years.

Even though they had both proposed a 50-50 split of revenues, the union had asked for $393 million in deferred transition payments, while the NHL was willing to give up $211 million.

The two sides were also split on contract issues covering arbitration, unrestricted free agency, entry-level deals and term length.

The NHL's third lockout in the last 20 years has already resulted in the cancellation of 422 regular-season games through Dec. 14, plus the Winter Classic and all-star game.

It remains the only North American pro sports league to lose an entire year to a work stoppage after having the 2004-05 season wiped out.

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 6, 2012 D1

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Your top TV picks for this weekend - Aug 29 - Sept 1

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Marc Gallant/Winnipeg Free Press. Local/Standup- BABY BISON. Fort Whyte Centre's newest mother gently nudges her 50 pound, female bull calf awake. Calf born yesterday. 25 now in herd. Four more calfs are expected over the next four weeks. It is the bison's second calf. June 7, 2002.
  • A Canada goose protects her nest full of eggs Monday on campus at the University of Manitoba- Standup photo- Apr 30, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Should panhandling at intersections be banned?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google