NHL labor talks on hold after rough Friday
BY IRA PODELL Associated Press
Sunday, November 11, 2012
11/11/12 at 6:51 AM
NEW YORK - NHL labor talks took a break Saturday - an old-fashioned lunch break.
Instead of returning to the negotiating table for a fifth straight day, representatives from the NHL and the players' association stayed in touch during the morning and then got together for an informal lunch meeting in the afternoon.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly and union special counsel Steve Fehr made plans to talk either Saturday night or Sunday morning to set up the next round of negotiations.
Negotiations hit a rough spot Friday and talks were put on hold Saturday - the 56th day of the lockout that has delayed the start of the season and already forced it to be shortened. Talks ended Friday night a few hours into a bargaining session on the core economic differences that separate the sides and threaten the season completely.
Following those discussions, union executive director Donald Fehr held a conference call with the executive board and players on the negotiating committee. The players' association continued internal discussions Saturday before meeting with the league.
It became clear Friday night that the gap between the sides had grown wider. Whether negotiations took a step backward remains to be seen.
After three consecutive seemingly positive days of talks this week, discussions turned sour Friday. The union was under the impression the numbers floated by each side indicated they were nearer to an agreement with the league, but NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman disagreed.
"Gary made a comment (Thursday) that there is still a lot of work to do. I think, given (Friday's) session, there is still a lot of work to do," Donald Fehr said. "We looked at some of the numbers on the various proposals and we thought we were much closer together on the structure of a deal than the suggestions were. They came back to us and said, 'No, we are very, very far apart on the structure of the deal.' "
Bettman declined to reveal what was discussed or where the disagreements lie. He also wouldn't characterize the mood of the talks.
The lockout began Sept. 16 after the collective bargaining agreement expired, and both sides rejected proposals Oct. 18. The players' association has agreed to a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenues, but that division wouldn't kick in until the third year of the deal.
Players believe that dropping their share of hockey-related revenue from 57 percent to 50 percent is already a major concession on their part.