NHL and Players Fail to Cover Ground in Resumption of Talks
New York, NY
With core economic issues out of the agenda, no ground was covered during the resumption of talks between the NHL and the players union, reportedly making it impossible for the two sides to reach a new collective bargaining agreement that will end the lockout.
The two sides conducted two sessions of negotiations while NHL commissioner Gary Bettman met privately with NHL Players Association executive director Donald Fehr but failed to produce a positive development that would help solve the labor impasse.
They are expected to reconvene Saturday and Sunday but the crucial issue of finances will not be tackled.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league is just waiting for the union to make a move before discussion on financial issues resumes.
"We really need to hear from the Players' Association," Daly said after the second session ended Friday evening. "Again, we need some kind of sign that they're prepared to compromise their economic position."
Explaining the league's position, Daly said the NHL has already made two significant moves to move dollars in the players' direction but the players have not returned the favor since Aug. 4.
NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr countered that negotiations do not have to follow a strict format and emphasized that the union is ready to discuss financial issues at any time.
"Bargaining is not ping-pong. There are no rules," Fehr said. "Whenever the parties are ready to discuss that, we can do it."
According to NHLPA special assistant Mathieu Schneider, Friday's session centered on drug testing with the union expressing its desire for the implementation of a broader testing under the new collective bargaining agreement.
"I don't think we have an issue with drugs and performance-enhancing drugs in our sport. I think we're looking at possibly expanding it a little bit to cover maybe the playoffs, maybe the offseason. Other than that, we're in agreement that it's not an issue in our sport," Schneider said.
Meanwhile, Daly refused to divulge when the league will start cancelling regular season games. The league has already cancelled all preseason games due to the lockout.
"I'm not prepared to say," Daly said.
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