NHL, NHLPA make no progress

Updated: October 2, 2012, 7:55 PM ET
By Katie Strang | ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- The NHL and NHLPA met briefly Tuesday but made no progress on a new collective bargaining agreement and offered little hope that a deal is any closer to getting done.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly didn't even rule out the possibility of involving a federal mediator at some point, although that does not appear imminent. NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr also said the union is not "averse" to outside help and has had discussions with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman about the option.

"A mediator can only be helpful if both sides are willing to embrace it and compromise," Daly said. "We certainly haven't ruled out that possibility."

The two sides met for approximately two hours, a continuation of Saturday's meeting on hockey-related revenue.

A league source told ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun that Fehr and Bettman spoke Tuesday afternoon regarding which direction the negotiations are headed in. The labor talks could resume later this week in Toronto, the source told LeBrun.

The league and union are still staying away from the core economic issues. For instance, they are not currently discussing the division of shares of hockey-related revenue and appear to be at odds about what the current definition even encompasses.

"Today was not overly encouraging, that's for sure," Daly said after the union left the league offices.

The union, however, disputed the league's characterization of the meetings -- "no progress was made," Daly said -- and indicated that the NHL has unrealistic expectations.

Fehr said the union responded to the league's series of proposals on hockey-related revenue.

"One of the things I think that everybody needs to understand is that the definition of 'no progress' that comes out of the NHL offices seems to be 'They didn't give us what they want yet'," Fehr said. "Progress is giving them what they want. It's not finding a way to come to a mutually acceptable understanding."

The lack of common ground between the two factions has stretched the lockout into its third week and will all but certainly force the NHL to begin canceling regular-season games this week. The league has already canceled the entire preseason schedule, a costly endeavor that, according to Daly, significantly impacts the league's bottom line.

"By losing the preseason, we've probably done close to $100 million in damage to the business that's not going to be recouped," Daly said.

Fehr countered that by pointing out that (1) the league also did not incur any of the expenses in holding those games and, perhaps more importantly, (2) the union offered to continue negotiating while playing under the collective bargaining agreement that expired Sept. 15.

"This is really important. This is a lockout they decided to have, This was a lockout of choice. There was no reason for it. Negotiations could still be ongoing," Fehr said. "And so, if there's a problem here, maybe someone ought to look in the mirror over there."

Fehr said he has been in regular communication with Bettman and planned to remain in touch. He sounded optimistic that talks would resume soon, possibly later this week. Whether that can lead to some substantive dialogue remains to be seen.

When asked whether he thought the league genuinely wanted a deal done at this point, Fehr responded:

"I choose to believe that they would like to make a deal, because if I didn't believe that, that would be very difficult to do the job."

Katie Strang covers the Rangers, Islanders and Devils for ESPNNewYork.com. She is a graduate of Michigan State University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
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