Fehr, Bettman Meet Again
NEW YORK -- NHL Players' Association head Donald Fehr and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman held a second round of private talks on Saturday in an effort to move closer to an agreement that would end the ongoing lockout.
While negotiating teams from the union and the league discussed definitions of what makes up hockey-related revenue -- the pool of money the sides are trying to figure out how to split up -- Fehr and Bettman talked about the differences that are keeping the sides apart.
"I spent a few minutes with Gary talking about the overall situation, and we agreed to keep in touch," Fehr said Saturday outside of the NHL's New York office. "I am sure we will talk again (Sunday). I don't know whether will meet again (Sunday). That remains to be seen.
"I am not going to talk about the specifics, but in general we're trying to discuss how do we find a way to make an agreement. How do we bridge the gap on the major issues that are between us."
The sides met for about four hours before finishing for the day. They agreed to meet again on Sunday.
They talked for a second straight day on matters separate from the core economic issues that ultimately will have to be hammered out. In the recently expired collective bargaining agreement between the league and the union, the players received a 57 percent share of hockey-related revenue.
The NHL wants to cut the number down to under 50 percent in the new deal. The league imposed a lockout on Sept. 16, when the previous agreement ran out, and the sides didn't meet again until Friday.
"Their position on the big stuff has been that a major move consists of changing the players' share from a reduction of 24 percent to 17½ percent," Fehr said. "Our initial proposal made a move in their direction. We have amplified that by giving them several different ideas to consider about how to lengthen the agreement to how to be more in line with what they wanted."
Fehr said discussing what exactly makes up hockey-related revenue is significant, because that will determine how much money is there to be divided.
Some progress was made on Friday on secondary issues related to player safety and drug testing, areas that weren't expected to be contentious. The league and union held two sessions then that totaled about five hours and included an initial meeting between Bettman and Fehr.
"I wish we had spent (Friday) on what we consider to be the more meaningful issues, but it is what it is," NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said on Friday. "We really need to hear from the players' association on those. We need some kind of sign that they are prepared to compromise their economic position because we haven't had that since Aug. 14.
"We'll see if we get there."
At least they got back to talking -- which hadn't happened since a few days before the NHL locked out its players.
"It was a good day," Daly said. "We went through a lot of the areas we'd covered over the summer. We started closing off some agreements in some areas, and some continued areas of disagreements in others. It's part of the process."
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