Pressure is on for league, players

With season slipping away, more talks ahead

calexander@newsobserver.comNovember 5, 2012 

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FILE - OCTOBER 4: According to reports October 4, 2012, the NHL has canceled all 82 games scheduled for October 11 through October 24, the first two weeks of the season. NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 13: Commissioner Gary Bettman of the National Hockey League speaks to the media at Crowne Plaza Times Square on September 13, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

BRUCE BENNETT — Getty Images

The on-again, off-again talks between the NHL and NHL Players Association are back on again.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly and NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr met throughout the day Saturday and late into the night. Daly said collective bargaining sessions are expected to continue early this week.

The meetings Saturday, the first substantive CBA discussions since Oct. 18, were held at an undisclosed location. They came a day after the NHL announced the cancellation of the 2013 Winter Classic, which added more urgency to get the dialogue started again between the two sides.

Daly said he and Fehr, the brother of NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr, had a “good, frank discussion on the most important issue separating us.”

The league proposed a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenue (HRR), honoring existing player contracts with a “make whole” provision in which players would receive deferred compensation. Donald Fehr and the union have opposed the make-whole plan, which Fehr said would come from the players’ share of HRR and amount to “players paying players.”

The talks Saturday apparently centered on tweaking the league’s make-whole proposal. The league and players would share in paying the value of the contracts.

Steve Fehr said he hoped to “continue the progress” in the meetings this week. He indicated Donald Fehr and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman would join the talks.

Sunday marked the 50th day of the NHL lockout – the third work stoppage of Bettman’s tenure. The league has canceled all regular-season games in October and November in the absence of a CBA.

Bettman had said that the season needed to begin this past Friday in order to fit in a full schedule and the Stanley Cup playoffs by the end of June. It is not known how many of the 326 canceled regular-season games could be played if a CBA is approved in the next week or two.

It’s likely the Winter Classic, which was set for New Year’s Day in Ann Arbor, Mich., would not be rescheduled this season because of logistical issues.

Alexander: 919-829-8945

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