NHL GMs spoke with players

Updated: October 23, 2012, 3:39 PM ET
By Pierre LeBrun | ESPN.com

The NHL Players' Association was not informed last week when the NHL gave its 30 general managers a 48-hour window to answer questions directly from players regarding the league's labor proposal.

The 48-hour window was from Wednesday to Friday at midnight.

"Most owners are not allowed to attend bargaining meetings," NHLPA counsel Steve Fehr said in a statement sent to various news outlets, including ESPN.com. "No owners are allowed to speak to the media about the bargaining.

"It is interesting that they are secretly unleashed to talk to the players about the meetings the players can attend, but the owners cannot."

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly, downplaying the significance of it, confirmed to ESPN.com on Tuesday that the league allowed team executives to answer questions from players regarding the league's newest proposal. Daly said the NHL sent out a legal memo to its clubs outlining guidelines as to what they could specifically talk about.

"I'm not sure why that's a big story," Daly told ESPN.com.

In reality, and while nobody would admit this on record, players and GMs talk all the time and have throughout this lockout.

The NHL and the players union have not formally scheduled any new labor talks after negotiations broke down last week. But a source told ESPNNewYork.com on Monday that the sides likely will resume talks at some point this week.

The NHLPA has scheduled a 5 p.m. ET internal conference call Tuesday to update collective bargaining matters with its negotiating committee and executive board, a source told ESPN.com.

In the memo, the league strictly prohibits its general managers from negotiating with players, making coercive statements, undermining the NHLPA or soliciting feedback on "their sentiment about collective bargaining matters," a source that received the document told ESPNNewYork.com.

It does allow, however, for general managers to answer certain inquiries from players.

According to the source, the memo includes a sample question-and-answer portion that gives executives suggestions on how to answer questions, such as, "What do you think we should do?"; "What happens if the union doesn't accept this proposal?"; and "Why did the league take so long to make this offer?"

ESPNNewYork.com's Katie Strang contributed to this report.

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