November 21, 2012

NHL, players back to talking

The sides will meet again Wednesday after Monday night's 90-minute bargaining session.

The Associated Press

NEW YORK – This time, NHL owners and players are staying apart for just one day.

Negotiations aimed at ending the league's lockout will resume Wednesday morning at the NHL office, the players' association said in a statement Tuesday. Before Monday night's 90-minute bargaining session, it had been eight days since the sides got together.

Whether the players' association will bring a new complete proposal, as requested by the NHL on Monday, to the next round of talks remained uncertain. But the union huddled for internal conversations after negotiations ended, and continued talking on Tuesday -- pushing further bargaining back a day.

"It looks like tomorrow," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told The Associated Press in an email Tuesday. "No other details at this point."

The lockout entered its 66th day Tuesday and already has wiped out 327 games. More cancellations could be coming soon without a new deal.

While neither side offered much insight following Monday night's talks, there didn't seem to be any of the anger that reportedly existed when the previous negotiations ended a week earlier. Both sides looked forward to when they would reconvene to try to reach the elusive deal that would end the lockout that has already shortened the season and threatens to scrap it completely.

"We talked about various things," union executive director Donald Fehr said Monday. "No new proposals were made, they were not expected to be made. We had hoped to engage them in a discussion about the player-contracting issues that are so important to the players. At least (Monday) they were unwilling to do that."

The prevailing question is when will one side say something the other really wants to hear. These negotiations have been going for a while, yet there hasn't been any kind of breakthrough to pave the way to a new collective bargaining agreement.

Both sides know the lockout has inflicted a lot of damage on the sport that produced record revenues of over $3 billion last season. Every day of lost time is hurting everyone, and at some point owners and players will have to decide how much of the losses each side will have to absorb.

The league contends it is waiting for the players to present a full proposal on all the major issues -- including core economics and player contracting, which deals with the entry-level system, arbitration and free agency. After the request was made, the players' association asked for a break and the meeting adjourned soon after.

 

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