New York, NY, United States (4E Sports) – Four straight days of negotiations between the NHL and the players union have produced no positive outcome, with both sides far apart on a structure of a fresh labor deal.
Worse, multiple sources said negotiations broke off Friday with some tense exchanges between some of the players and owners in attendance, as well as NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
“We thought we were much closer together on a structure of a deal than suggestions were,” NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr said. “(The NHL) came back to us and said, ‘No, we’re very, very far apart on a structure of the deal.’ “
For his part, Bettman declined to describe the state of negotiations or give details of Friday’s discussions.
After the two sides broke off without scheduling any new meeting, a report said that the NHL feels its latest proposal was not communicated to the players in an internal memo, which Fehr refuted.
“Understand that their proposal is made in front of players, in the room, who hear it,” Fehr said. “Owners can’t come to meetings when they want to if they want to hear stuff directly but a player can, at the union’s expense, come here for himself and all the rest of it.”
Aside from revenue sharing, the “make whole” concept to honor existing player contracts also prevents the two sides from reaching a common ground.
According to sources, the league’s offer of $211 million was deemed unacceptable by the union, which seeks to guarantee existing contracts, believed to be approximately $590 million.
Fehr also disclosed that the two sides were working on agreed-upon growth rates that the league since has indicated they find to be unlikely.
“If the notion is that they are honoring all the contracts and everybody’s going to be paid everything they’re supposed to according to the letter of the contracts, it’s of course not true and never has been,” Fehr said.
A source told ESPN.com added that the two sides remain far apart on players’ rights and contracting issues, a vital element to the union’s membership. However, two additional sources said the league is ultimately willing to budge on those areas if the union is willing to make concessions.
The union, however, believes their willingness to drop to a 50-50 split of revenue by Year 3 (down from 57 percent last year) is enough of a concession.