November 19, 2012
NHL, NHLPA refuse to budge during latest lockout talks'Who is going to buckle? I don't see it happening right now'
By BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency
The NHL wants the NHL Players’ Association to put up or shut up to end the lockout.
As the stoppage hit Day 65 with a meeting that lasted only 90 minutes Monday night at the league’s headquarters in New York, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told reporters he’s demanded the NHLPA to put a full proposal on the table.
While both sides expect to resume talks Tuesday, there won’t be any decision on further discussions unless the union is willing to bring something new to the table that can break the logjam on hockey-related revenues.
“I’m frustrated,” Daly told reporters in New York.
Daly said the union needs to clarify the way it wants to split the revenues. The league would like to get to a 50-50 split immediately while the players have proposed a gradual move to an equal share.
Daly is getting tired of the talk and a source told the QMI Agency the NHLPA didn’t give any indication during the session whether they’re willing to bend on their demand to not go to 50-50 immediately.
“We think it’s all tied together and we’d like to hear it all together,” said Daly.
In an email to QMI Agency, Daly said the NHL won’t know if progress was made until the NHLPA issues a response. If the union isn’t willing to specify costs for the owners then these talks could go nowhere.
“If their proposal continues to be a guaranteed amount of players’ share dollars we have told them that sitting here on Nov. 19 that’s not a proposal that is acceptable to us or would ever be acceptable to our owners,” said Daly.
The league and players brought new faces to the table to see if they could jumpstart talks. Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke sat in with league commissioner Gary Bettman alongside owners Ted Leonsis (Washington), Murray Edwards (Calgary) and Jeremy Jacobs (Boston).
That didn’t lead to an agreement.
NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr left without indicating whether he’s going to table something new.
“We are going to think about what was said and think about our next step,” said Fehr.
Before heading to the session, Fehr sat down with 18 players, including Tampa’s Martin St. Louis and Vinny Lecavalier, for a meeting at the NHLPA’s office space in New York to come up with a plan.
All attended the session at the league’s head offices.
“You have to wonder who is going to budge here,” said a league insider as expectations remain low. “Who is going to buckle? I don’t see it happening right now. Nobody is going to get a deal until we’re at a breaking point and I don’t think the breaking point is here.
“A lot of people thought a deal would be done earlier. For it to make any sense for the league and players to get a deal now, they both have to go all in (for this battle). You don’t want to go this far to cut your losses. They’re both still going for the win. They’re not going for compromise. You’re in it to win it. That’s the way they have to think.”
The pressure is mounting on both sides to get a deal done with Dec. 1 around the corner. Not only are some owners getting itchy, sources say there are agents trying to apply heat for Fehr to negotiate.
The NHL and the players both stand to lose if the season is lost. Kraft announced before the meeting Monday it is pulling its sponsorship of Hockeyville in 2013 and will give a $1 million to grassroots programs.
If the league and the union can’t come to an agreement, then Kraft isn’t going to be the first major sponsor to jump ship. Many could follow them out the door and the $3.3 billion pot in revenues could get smaller.
The league had toyed with the possibility of cancelling all games until Dec. 15 on Monday afternoon, including the 2013 NHL All-Star game, but decided to hold off because they wanted to see if the most recent talks would be fruitful.
It remains to be seen whether that will happen.