Daly: Union is stalling

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:13 AM ET

NHL VP Bill Daly accused the NHLPA last night of being in "stall mode" and issued a warning to the union that it should get working on a new CBA or the deal will only get worse for players.

While the two sides made progress during a meeting April 4, Daly said today's session in New York -- which will include NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and union boss Bob Goodenow -- must have a sense of urgency from the players.

Sources say if the two sides aren't able to come up with a framework for a deal, the league will push ahead with the National Labour Relations Board to declare an impasse and bring in replacement workers.

"I don't really know what to expect," Daly told the Sun in an e-mail. "But it would certainly appear (Goodenow) is back in stall mode. We'll see. The players have to understand no matter how much pressure he thinks the clubs are under, the deal only gets worse for the players. Everybody else sees that. I don't know why he doesn't seem to."

NHLPA NOT PLEASED

The NHLPA did not respond in kind to Daly's comments.

"If anything is stalling these negotiations it is the NHL's one-track approach," NHLPA senior director Ted Saskin said in a statement. "In our upcoming meetings we shall see whether Bettman is prepared to negotiate something other than the one position he has been advocating for the last three years ... which led us to the lockout and cancellation of one full season already."

Meanwhile, with the NHL board of governors set to meet tomorrow, Bettman is either going to report he's in a position to continue negotiating with the union or that talks have fallen apart.

"This meeting, in my mind, is absolutely critical," a league source said yesterday. "They've got to at least find a way to move forward and make some progress or this could get very ugly.

'RATCHET UP PRESSURE'

"If these talks fall apart, the league hard-liners will go to the board of governors (tomorrow) and say they must proceed with impasse quickly and try to ratchet up the pressure on the union. There are moderates on both sides who want to get a deal done, but they had better get their message across now."

The NHLPA introduced a concept at the last meeting that included a floating team-by-team payroll range with a salary cap of about $50 million (all terms US) and a floor of $30 million. That cap could change depending on revenues.

However, the two sides haven't been able to agree on where the revenues might go after this prolonged lockout that has already cancelled one season and is threatening the next one as well.

"Uncertainty is what is killing this league," said the source. "All the moderates on both sides believe if no deal is reached before May slips to June, then next year's revenues are doomed in any event.


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