No Progress In New Round Of NHL Labor Talks
NEW YORK -- As quickly as NHL labor negotiations got going again, they came to a screeching halt. Now there is no telling when the league and the players will return to the bargaining table.
After a one-day break following a series of formal discussions this week, the sides got back to business on Sunday. Less than 90 minutes after talks solely about player-contract issues started, they were over.
The players contend the NHL has dug in on its position and is not willing to negotiate.
"The owners made it clear there is no give with respect to their proposals unless the players are willing to take them -- this is my phrase, not theirs -- down to the comma, then there is nothing to do, that we're past the point of give and take," players' association executive director Donald Fehr said.
No new plans to talk were made, but Monday wasn't ruled out. The sides will be in touch, and if they do decide to meet then, those talks will take place in Toronto where leaders from the NHL and the players' association will be to attend Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremonies.
Getting together hasn't been a problem recently once tensions thawed a bit after both sides rejected proposals on Oct. 18.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly met with union special counsel Steve Fehr last weekend, and that led to four straight days of talks this week in New York that ended on a sour note Friday night.
Donald Fehr and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman also took part in Sunday's brief discussions.
Daly, Steve Fehr and Los Angeles Kings forward Kevin Westgarth got together for an informal lunch meeting on Saturday in New York, and the sides made plans Sunday morning to meet again at the NHL's Manhattan office.
They just couldn't get any traction on the hotly contested issues involving player contract terms.
The NHL wants to limit contracts to five years, make rules to prohibit back-diving contracts the league feels circumvents the salary cap, keep players ineligible for unrestricted free agency until they are 28 or have eight years of professional service time, cut entry-level deals to two years, and make salary arbitration after five years.
Despite reports that talks on Friday got heated before negotiations ended, Daly said Sunday he doesn't feel animosity has crept into the bargaining room. However, if the sides can't find common ground, there won't be a deal anytime soon to save the already delayed and shortened season.
A few hours into Friday's session, negotiations broke down over the core economic differences that separate the sides and are threatening the season completely. The lockout already has caused the NHL to call off 327 regular-season games, including the New Year's Day Winter Classic. A lockout wiped out the entire 2004-05 season.
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