NEW YORK – Winnipeg Jets defenseman Ron Hainsey is getting antsy. Not only is he anxious to get back to the bargaining table with the NHL, he really wants to be on the ice with his teammates.
Just not at all costs and not without the right deal.
As part of the negotiating committee for the players’ association, Hainsey has kept busy during the lockout by taking part in the ongoing talks with the NHL. But ongoing is now a relative term, because nothing has been going on between the sides since talks broke down again last week, despite the presence of a federal mediator for two days in New Jersey.
“We’ve said it a number of times, but it’s worth repeating: It’s obviously very difficult to make a deal if you’re not meeting or negotiating,” Hainsey told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Tuesday. “I’ve yet to see a way we can do it without sitting down across a table from each other.”
Two weeks ago, progress was made during several consecutive days of negotiations between players and owners in New York. The sides disagree on how close they might have moved toward a deal, but a major breakdown at the end wrecked any hope for a fast solution.
Since then, there’s been no collective bargaining agreement in sight and no talks were planned as of Tuesday afternoon.
“Nothing scheduled at this point,” Hainsey said. “We’ve always said we’re open to sit down and meet any time, and now we’re kind of in a situation where no one wants to make the first move. Maybe there is a way of doing it. Communication the past couple of days has been quiet. Maybe there is some way to get it started with something similar to what we had (in New York).”
Players’ association executive director Donald Fehr declared then that an agreement was in reach, a notion that was quickly knocked down by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman after the union declined to accept three non-negotiable points. When the offer wasn’t unconditionally accepted, the league turned down the union’s proposal and withdrew any offers it had made.
The lockout reached its 94th day Tuesday, and all games have been canceled through Dec. 30. Bettman has said the league doesn’t want a season with fewer than 48 games per team, so play would likely have to get under way by mid-January for that to be possible.
If the NHL isn’t going to play, a member of the Canadian parliament believes the Stanley Cup should be awarded to an amateur team instead.