No movement in NHL lockout

calexander@newsobserver.comNovember 15, 2012 

CANES06.SP.111412.CCS

The Carolina Hurricanes' Eric Staal, left, Jay Harrison, center, and Cam Ward confer during a pick-up game as some of the Carolina Hurricanes players practice on their own at Raleigh Center Ice in Raleigh, NC on Nov. 14, 2012. The NHL is still not playing because of a labor dispute.

CHRIS SEWARD — cseward@newsobserver.com

A week ago, the NHL labor talks were lengthy, intense and – at least many hoped and believed – productive.

This week: Nothing.

The NHL and NHL Players Association aren’t even talking by phone, much less meeting. The two sides seem firmly entrenched on a collective bargaining agreement, differing on the details and refusing to budge, as the lockout continues and puts the hockey season in jeopardy.

The NHL, which has canceled all games through the end of this month, may soon chop off a few weeks of the December schedule. The 2013 Winter Classic, scheduled for New Year’s Day, already has been axed.

Any momentum gained last week, when the two sides met in New York, apparently has been lost. The NHL has let it be known they will not be making any more CBA proposals. The union doesn’t like what it has been presented. No meetings are scheduled.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly, asked Thursday by The Canadian Press about the CBA stalemate, said, “I’m more discouraged now than I have been at any point in the process.”

Unless a season begins soon, the players will lose more money. Their third paychecks for the 2012-2013 season were due Thursday, but there is no pay when there’s no play.

Donald Fehr, executive director of the NHLPA, had set a gloomy tone with his comments Friday about the NHL and commissioner Gary Bettman after a fourth straight day of talks last week.

“The owners made it clear that there is no give with respect to any of their proposals,” Fehr said. “That unless players are prepared to take – and this is my phrase, not theirs – down to the comma, that there’s nothing to do.”

Still to be decided is how much the NHL will pay to honor existing players contracts, issues such as lengths of contracts and free agency, and how to handle the financial damage done to the league in a shortened season.

The league has offered to put $211 million toward contracts to fund the “make whole” provision of their CBA proposal. The league apparently will not consider any further changes to its contracting requests, including a maximum of five-year contracts and unrestricted free agency beginning at age 28 or eight years of service.

“I don’t know how you make an agreement if that’s their position,” Fehr said last Friday.

This week began with the Hockey Hall of Fame festivities in Toronto. NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr caused a stir at a panel discussion in Toronto when he said, “When the moment is right, the deal could be done very quickly.”

The right moment? Hockey fans have been waiting for that since Sept. 16, when the lockout began.

Alexander: 919-829-8945

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