Five hours of talks in two sessions between the NHL and the players’ association did little to move the sides closer to a deal in the nearly one-month lockout.
The NHL’s top two executives — Commissioner Gary Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly — met with the NHLPA’s main negotiators — executive director Donald Fehr and special counsel Steve Fehr — for nearly an hour Wednesday to assess where the sides were on Day 25 of the NHL lockout, but there was no concrete discussions on the troublesome core economic issues preventing a deal.
A four-hour session that stretched into evening centered on player health and safety issues along with other miscellaneous legal topics. The health issues involved seeking multiple medical opinions on injuries, and who should make determinations when a player is healthy enough to return to action after being hurt.
“We have some disagreements in those areas,” Daly said. “When you get to this point of the discussions on some of those areas, that is to be expected so we’re kind of refining some of the things we continue to have disagreements on.
“We had no discussion of the major economic issues or system issues, so that continues to be a disappointment from our perspective.”
The sides will meet again today — which should have been NHL opening day — but there are still no plans to delve into how the sides will split up hockey-related revenue that was in excess of $3 billion last season.
Steve Fehr took a more optimistic view of what was discussed, but lamented that the discussions were taking place instead of action on the ice.
“You often don’t know whether you’re making progress until you look back on it,” he said. “We were just sort of discussing the overall status of the bargaining and where the parties are.”
The NHL is eager to get a new proposal from the union on the main economic issues, but the players contend that they have moved closer to the league’s demands in their previous offers while the NHL has only sought to take more away from the union in each proposal it has made.