Friday, December 13, 2013
The Associated Press
NEW YORK - Five hours of talks in two sessions between the NHL and the players' association did little to move the sides closer to a deal in the nearly one-month lockout.
The NHL's top two executives -- Commissioner Gary Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly -- met with the NHLPA's main negotiators -- executive director Donald Fehr and special counsel Steve Fehr -- for nearly an hour Wednesday morning to assess where the sides were on Day 25 of the NHL lockout, but there was no concrete discussions on the troublesome core economic issues preventing a deal.
A four-hour session that stretched into evening centered on player health and safety issues along with other topics. The health issues involved seeking multiple medical opinions on injuries, and who should make determinations when a player is healthy enough to return to action after being hurt.
"We have some disagreements in those areas," Daly said. "When you get to this point of the discussions on some of those areas, that is to be expected so we're kind of refining some of the things we continue to have disagreements on.
"We had no discussion of the major economic issues or system issues, so that continues to be a disappointment from our perspective."
The sides will meet again Thursday -- which should have been opening day -- but there are still no plans to delve into how the sides will split up hockey-related revenue that exceeded $3 billion last season.
However, Donald Fehr has floated the idea that the longer the lockout goes on, the players might seek to make an offer that doesn't include a salary cap -- the very issue that led to the cancellation of the 2004-05 season. The collective bargaining agreement that finally ended that lockout seven years ago expired last month.
If discussions can get jump-started, the sides haven't ruled out meeting again on Friday. Two weeks of the regular season have already been wiped out .
Daly estimated the NHL lost $100 million from the cancellation of the preseason and another $140 million to $150 million with the regular-season losses.
One victory was achieved by the NHL on Wednesday when the Alberta Labor Relations Board ruled that the lockout of players from the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames can continue.
The board said that declaring the lockout illegal in the province wouldn't help the league and its players reach a settlement. The players had argued that the Oilers and Flames are Alberta businesses and as such, must abide by provincial labor rules.