Day 2: NHL, union back to bargaining
The NHL and its players’ union kept talking Wednesday, a day after they met for more than seven hours in an effort to end the nearly two-month-old hockey lockout.
The sides negotiated on a new collective bargaining agreement past 10 p.m. Tuesday and immediately announced they would reconvene. They started up again at an undisclosed location, and were fully prepared to talk well into the night.
As the lockout reached its 53rd day, it was expected that owners and players would further discuss the “make-whole” provision, which involves the payment of player contracts that are already in effect.
A day after NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr spoke to reporters before meeting with the NHL, neither side made any pre-meeting comments.
Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, an active participant in the process, was among eight players in attendance for the latest session. Some players, including Crosby, left New York to try to avoid an impending storm that brought snow to the area, the union said.
The sides got together Wednesday for the third time in five days, including a weekend session between NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly and union special counsel Steve Fehr, Donald’s brother. Before that there had been no face-to-face discussions since Oct. 18.
Daly and the Fehrs were joined on Tuesday by Commissioner Gary Bettman, a handful of team owners and 13 players.
There was already common ground before negotiations began Tuesday. The players’ union adhered to the league’s request to keep the meeting location in New York a secret. With no outside distractions, the sides talked from afternoon until night.
Once they broke for the day, neither side gave any hint of what was discussed or if progress was made, but both pointed to the next round of talks.
“The league will not characterize the substance or detail of the discussions until their conclusion,” Daly said in a statement Tuesday night.
Steve Fehr met with Daly on Saturday in a secret location, and neither provided many details of what was discussed, but both agreed that the meeting was productive.
Time is becoming a bigger factor every day a deal isn’t reached. The lockout, which went into effect Sept. 16 after the previous collective bargaining agreement expired, has already forced the cancellation of 327 regular-season games — including the New Year’s Day outdoor Winter Classic in Michigan.
Whether any of the games that have been called off through Nov. 30 can be rescheduled if an agreement is made soon hasn’t been determined. But the NHL has already said that a full 82-game season won’t be played.
Back in October, the players’ association responded to an NHL offer with three of its own, but all of those were quickly dismissed by the league — leading to nearly three weeks without face-to-face discussions.