Saturday, September 29, 2012
NHL, union meet again amid lockout
By Katie Strang
NEW YORK -- NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHL Players' Association executive director Donald Fehr held a private meeting for the second straight day, while the larger group session centered on hockey-related revenue during labor talks between the league and union Saturday.
Without divulging specifics, Fehr said the two had discussed ways for the league and union to bridge the gap and make some progress on brokering a new deal.
"I spent a few minutes with Gary talking about the overall situation, and we agreed to keep in touch," Fehr said. "I'm sure we'll talk again tomorrow."
"I'm not going to talk about the specifics, but in general, we're trying to discuss, 'How do we find a way to make an agreement? How do we bridge the gaps on the major issues that are between us?' The kind of things you'd hope we'd talk about."
In the larger group meeting, the two sides are focusing on the current interpretation of hockey-related revenue and what that definition encompasses.
No numbers or percentages were swapped with respect to the share each side should receive -- the main sticking point causing the current impasse -- but there was dialogue to determine what exactly should be included as part of the pie that ultimately will be divided.
"I'm not sure we've identified discrepancies," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said. "What we're trying to do today is create certainty on interpretations we've had over the past seven years of this CBA's operation, so we're really just looking to codify interpretations going ahead."
Steve Fehr, the special counsel for the NHLPA, said the two sides had "a frank exchange of views."
"We each expressed our positions in terms of some potential changes and how we thought the current agreement was working," he said.
The league and the union plan to return to the negotiating table Sunday, when it is expected they will discuss legal issues, including grievances. Both Daly and Steve Fehr said hockey-related revenue may resurface before talks wrap up for the weekend.
Like he did after Friday's session, Daly expressed frustration that the two sides were not meeting on the core economic concepts -- the polarizing issues impeding a new deal.
"As I said last night, these meetings are necessary, but they've been described, I think, as the underbrush and certainly they aren't the main issues that need to be tackled to get a deal," he said.