NHL,NHLPA Set To Meet Again Today To Discuss Collective Bargaining Agreement
After more than seven hours of negotiations, the NHL and NHLPA ended a lengthy day back at the Collective Bargaining Agreement table with plans to meet again Wednesday, the NHLPA announced.
Neither side was available after the marathon session the first formal negotiations since October 18 which stretched late into Election Night on Tuesday evening, although the league did issue the following statement from deputy commissioner Bill Daly:
“Collective bargaining negotiations between the National Hockey League and representatives of the National Hockey League’s Players Association recessed tonight at 10:15 p.m. With meetings scheduled to resume Wednesday, the League will not characterize the substance or detail of the discussions until their conclusion.”
The two sides met at an undisclosed location in Manhattan, a league request the union honored to keep the site private to avoid interference and media exposure.
NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr met with reporters before the negotiations began, but declined to offer any prediction on the direction of talks.
“The players’ view has always been to keep negotiating until we find a way to get an agreement and you sort of stay at it day by day, so it’s very good to be getting back to the table,” Fehr said. “And we hope that this time it produces more progress than we’ve seen in the past, and that we can find a way to make an agreement and to get the game back on the ice as soon as possible.”
Fehr said he hoped the two sides continue to meet as long as it takes to broker a new deal. The lockout has now stretched into its seventh week — Tuesday marked the 52nd day — and has resulted in the cancellation of all regular-season games through Nov. 30, as well as the annual Winter Classic.
“We’re hopeful that we’ll start bargaining and we’ll continue bargaining until we find a way to make a deal,” Fehr said.
Prior to Tuesday’s lengthy session, the last substantive discussion between the two sides was over the weekend, when NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr and Daly met one on one at a secret, neutral site on Saturday.
No formal proposals were traded but the two groups’ No. 2 men discussed a variety of issues in a marathon meeting that both Fehr and Daly characterized as productive.
An integral part of the discussion between the two parties was the league’s willingness to bend on their “make-whole” provision. Although the league originally intended to honor existing player contracts by using a deferred payment program that ultimately would require players to shoulder the economic burden down the road, they are now willing to modify their stance, a source told ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun this past weekend.
An agreement on that element of the deal would be significant, but would not necessarily be the end-all to forging a new collective bargaining agreement.
“It doesn’t end the matter,” said Fehr, who said he would reserve judgment until he is formally presented with the league’s stance on the issue. “There are still other things that are important, but it certainly would matter in and of itself.”
Although the location for Tuesday’s meeting remained a secret, the bargaining session included a larger group. Commissioner Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr attended, as well as both sides’ legal teams. Several players joined the meeting as well.
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