NEW YORK – Two days of talks between the NHL, the players’ association and federal mediators still haven’t provided any answers how to end the lockout.
Representatives from the fighting sides made it into the same room with a federal mediator Thursday. They just didn’t make any noticeable progress.
Players’ association special counsel Steve Fehr, who met with league lead counsel Bob Batterman on Thursday, said the sides intend to talk Friday either in person or by phone.
“I expect the mediators will continue to be involved,” Fehr emailed The Associated Press. “Do not want to characterize the discussion today.”
At no point did union executive director Donald Fehr meet with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly.
Daly said he expected to talk to Steve Fehr on Friday.
“I’m not sure what the next steps will be,” Daly told the AP in an email. “I do expect the mediators to stay involved in terms of monitoring our ongoing negotiations, but at this point there are no further sessions planned. It doesn’t appear there was movement by either side on any of the main issues over the last two days.”
Mediators talked to each group separately Wednesday in suburban New Jersey and carried messages back and forth.
When the NHL agreed last week to increase its make-whole offer of deferred payments from $211 million to $300 million, it was part of a proposed package that required the union to agree on three nonnegotiable points. Instead the players’ association accepted the raise in funds, but then made counterproposals on the issues the league stated had no wiggle room.
Bettman then said that the offer was being pulled from the table. Neither side made proposals Wednesday.
All games through Dec. 30 have been canceled, 43 percent of the season, along with the New Year’s Day Winter Classic and the All-Star game.
The NHL wants to limit personal player contracts to five years, seven for a club to re-sign its own player, and has elevated the issue to the highest level of importance.
The union countered with an offer of an eight-year maximum length with the variable in salary being no greater than a 25 percent difference between the highest-paid year of the deal and the lowest.
The other sticking points the NHL demanded of the players are a 10-year term on the new agreement, with a mutual opt-out option after eight years, and no compliance buyouts or caps on escrow in the transition phase to the new structure. The union presented an offer of an eight-year deal with a reopener after six.