Still no end in sight for NHL impasse

calexander@newsobserver.comDecember 13, 2012 

The NHL apparently remains in a take-it-or-leave-it mode when it comes to a new collective bargaining agreement.

The NHL and NHL Players Association resumed CBA talks Wednesday in New Jersey through the services of federal mediator Scot Beckenbaugh. Neither side was in the same room at the same time, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said, during the 61/2 hours.

“There’s nothing new to report,” Daly said. “We do not have a conclusion to the process.”

When CBA negotiations broke down last Thursday after some marathon sessions in New York, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the league’s proposal was no longer on the table.

That included an offer to use $300million from the league’s share of hockey-related revenue (HRR) to help “make whole” existing player contracts in deferred compensation that Bettman labeled “transition payments.”

The league remains insistent on the players accepting a 10-year CBA with an opt-out after eight years, and contract lengths of five years for new signings and seven years for the re-signing of a player.

The union has proposed an eight-year CBA with opt-out after the sixth year, and a maximum of eight years for new contracts.

Los Angeles Kings forward Kevin Westgarth, a member of the players’ negotiating committee, did not attend Wednesday’s meeting. He noted the $300 million make whole provision was contingent on the players “signing on the dotted line” and signing off on the NHL’s CBA package.

“They’ve been saying that about everything,” said Westgarth, who lives in Raleigh during the offseason. “Every step (the NHL) makes for whatever reason is tied to the whole thing being accepted. We keep moving and they want to keep disregarding our moves.”

NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr, special counsel Steve Fehr and 13 players were at Wednesday’s meeting in Iselin, N.J. Bettman and Daly represented the league but there were no NHL owners present.

Daly said the union would get back to Beckenbaugh later Wednesday night and that Beckenbaugh then would talk to the league.

The NHL and NHLPA agreed to mediation two weeks ago, but two days of meetings then were not productive.

Daly said he was not sure when more meetings will be held.

Forward Brendan Morrison, who was at Wednesday’s meeting, told reporters the league’s non-negotiable stance on its proposal didn’t leave the players with much of a decision.

Asked to sum up his feelings about the day, Morrison said, “I think discouraged is a good word.”

Alexander: 919-829-8945

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