Optimism for NHL labor negotiations after ‘constructive day’

December 5, 2012

(Bruce Bennett/Getty) Bill Daly and Steve Fehr meet with reporters following a marathon Tuesday session.

 

“Cautious optimism” is the phrase of the day when it comes to the NHL’s labor negotiations after a group of six owners and 18 players met for nearly eight hours Tuesday in New York. 

The two sides appeared to create some traction in the marathon session, which didn’t include NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman or NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr, and has the entire hockey world waiting to see if it leads to sustained progress in creating a new collective bargaining agreement.

NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr and NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly met with reporters together following the long day of meetings.

“I thought it was a constructive day; we had a good dialogue. In some ways, I’d say it might be the best day we’ve had,” Fehr said. “Which isn’t to paint too overly optimistic a picture. There’s still a lot of work to do and a lot to be done, but we will be back at it [Wednesday] morning.”

Said Daly: “I appreciate the efforts of the players in particular. We had 18 players in there today and six of our owners….I think everyone wants to get a deal done, so I think that’s encouraging. We look forward to hopefully making more progress [Wednesday].”

The same groups touched base Wednesday morning and they are expected to reconvene for more talks following the NHL’s Board of Governors meeting that is scheduled for 11 a.m. in New York. According to multiple reports, the NHLPA is working on a new proposal and how it’s received will go a long way to determining where the negotiations stand. 

In the meantime, here’s what you should be reading and watching for the latest in lockout news:

• TSN’s Bob McKenzie, Darren Dreger, Pierre LeBrun and James Duthie break down the strides made Tuesday

• The Capitals aren’t represented in the group of 18 players who met with owners Tuesday, but you can check out the full list of those who did here.

• According to a report by the Pittsburgh Tribune Review’s Rob Rossi, the Penguins, whose co-owner Ron Burkle and captain Sidney Crosby are present in these latest meetings, are working to bridge the gap between the two sides and save the 2012-13 season. 

Burkle and Crosby were described by participants in the five-hour talks as voices of reason. Their shared point of view: The NHL should not risk another round of canceled games — they’re already canceled through Dec. 14 — and the league may not recover if a season is lost to a labor dispute for the second time in eight years, the sources said.

CBC’s Elliotte Friedman takes a look at the two major developments out of Tuesday: That it was the best day in talks thus far and Pittsburgh’s involvement. To the former point:

The two big questions for Wednesday are: Can momentum be sustained? And, what will the rest of the Governors think?

One of the biggest problems with this process so far is that any positive movement evaporates once deeper discussions set in. Today, for example, was believed to be the day the league was going to pull its $211-million “make-whole” offer from the table.

Now, where does that stand? The answer to those kinds of questions determines where we go from here.

From Puck Daddy, NHL Chief Operating Officer John Collins could be a casualty of the lockout. 

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Matt Rennie · December 3, 2012

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