SUN Hockey Pool

No talks planned as lockout begins

Donald Fehr (C), executive director of the National Hockey League Players Association, speaks at a...

Donald Fehr (C), executive director of the National Hockey League Players Association, speaks at a news conference as players Ron Hainsey (centre R) and Manny Malhotra (centre L) look on, in New York September 12, 2012. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:08 PM ET

Chris Campoli sat on his Toronto couch Sunday flipping through the smorgasbord of NFL games.

He would have been just as happy sitting at the NHL's headquarters in New York with representatives of the NHL Players Association trying to hammer out a collective bargaining agreement to get the players back to work.

But there were no formal talks between the league and NHLPA as Day 1 of the lockout passed. None are planned and nobody on either side is willing to predict when they might happen again. The two sides have agreed to stay in touch. That's it.

The NHLPA tried to engage the NHL in discussions before the CBA expired at 11:59 p.m. Saturday but with both sides unwilling to budge, the league decided talks weren't going to be fruitful and locked the doors instead.

"I'm disappointed. They had that self-imposed deadline of Sept. 15th and they made it and I don't think it hurts to have conversation," said Campoli, one of the most active players on the NHLPA's bargaining committee.

"We were trying to make (talks) happen. By the time they got around to it, unfortunately it was too late. There wasn't going to be any offers or anything going on, but I think it's better to have conversations than not."

Campoli stuck around in New York with committee members Douglas Murray (San Jose) and Ron Hainsey (Winnipeg) after union meetings to see if there could be some last-minute momentum to find a solution.

Though NHLPA special adviser Steve Fehr requested a meeting during lunch with deputy commissioner Bill Daly Saturday, the league doesn't think talks will be fruitful until the players make more concessions.

"The whole thing has been disappointing so today was just the inevitable," said Campoli of the lockout officially starting. "You knew it was going to happen. It's just another step along the timeline that we're going to have to go through.

"At this point, from where we've come with our proposals, we've come to them and there's concessions in every one, over $800 million over the course of the agreement and it's disappointing there's no agreement."

Campoli said the business of the NHL has, and will continue, to grow in popularity.

Campoli sat back wide-eyed watching teams spending in excess of $120 million in extensions before the CBA expired. The icing on the cake was Winnipeg's Evander Kane getting $31.5 million for six years at 11:40 p.m.

"The industry has grown over $1 billion since the last agreement and people are making money. I've got a tough time sitting here listening to them say, 'Well, we just think we're paying out too much' and that's the only argument they have," said Campoli.

"This is the third time there's been a lockout in the last three negotiations and it makes you wonder about the system. I think our proposal addressed that as well. You don't want this every time. It's no good for the game. Period.

"That's the frustrating part. We've legitimately tried to say, 'OK, we want to play and we realize there's some issues with a few teams and you take our concessions with our revenue-sharing program and you get a healthier league.'"

Campoli said the first step is to get back to the table.

"You can't get anywhere if you don't talk," he said. "Every negotiation is different. People bring up last time (when it took three months before talks were held) because it was so fresh. Everything is different: The union and the leader are different.

"You don't know what direction this is going to go. There's a lot to lose on both sides. Hopefully, there can be some common sense in all of this."

Common sense would get both sides back to work quickly.

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @sungarrioch


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