NHL, players’ union meet briefly, reach no common ground

Fitzgerald Cecilio – 4E Sports Reporter

New York, NY, United States (4E Sports) – The NHL and the players’ union met briefly Sunday to tackle several crucial issues but failed to reach common ground, making it harder for the sides to come up with a fresh labor agreement that will end the lockout.

“I just don’t, right now, given our opposition to addressing some of these issues, know where we go,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said after the meeting.

NHL Players Association executive director Donald Fehr said Sunday’s brief meeting failed to yield any positive development.

“The owners made it clear that there is no give with respect to any of their proposals,” Fehr said. “That unless players are prepared to take — and this is my phrase, not theirs — down to the comma, that there’s nothing to do.

“We’re past the point of give and take. That’s what I was told Gary (Bettman) said when I was out of the meeting,” he added.

The sides plan to touch base Monday when Fehr and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman plan to be in Toronto for the Hockey Hall of Fame ceremony but have no immediate plans to meet again.

The union has rejected several elements of the league’s last full proposal, which includes long-term contract limits of five years, strict variance rules to avoid back-diving contracts, 28 years of age or eight professional years before free agency, two-year entry-level deals and salary arbitration after five years.

“We have proposals on the table. What we heard from the players’ association is that they’re not interested in our proposals, and that leaves us apart,” Daly said.

“We’ve always made clear that an agreement on the player contracting issues was as important to us as any other issue,” he added.

Fehr however mentioned that it “won’t be too long” before the sides meet again and try again to reach a new labor agreement.

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