NHL, NHLPA can't agree to meet

Updated: October 24, 2012, 11:53 AM ET
By Pierre LeBrun | ESPN.com

The NHL and NHL Players' Association can't agree to meet at this point.

The NHLPA says it has invited the NHL back to the bargaining table as long as there are no strings attached.

After the NHLPA's executive board conference call Tuesday, the players' union "informed the NHL we are willing to meet tomorrow or any other date, without preconditions, to try to reach an agreement," NHLPA senior spokesman Jonathan Weatherdon said via email. "We hope to hear from them soon."

But the NHL's response was swift.

"They have made it clear to us that they have very little interest in the proposal we made last Tuesday," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in an email Tuesday night to ESPN.com. "They also told us they have no intention of making a new proposal. I'm not sure what we would be meeting about."

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman had set this Thursday as a deadline to gain enough traction on a new CBA in order to drop the puck for a full 82-game season starting Nov. 2.

"The league is apparently unwilling to meet," NHLPA counsel Steve Fehr said. "That is unfortunate as it is hard to make progress without talking."

Earlier Tuesday, Daly told ESPN.com in a phone interview the league was open to meeting with the NHLPA on the topic of the "Make Whole" provision in a new CBA -- a mechanism in which existing player contracts are honored. The "Make Whole" provision was first included in the league's offer last week.

"We made clear at our meeting on Thursday that if the terms of the 'Make Whole' is something they wanted us to negotiate over or address, we're more than happy to do it," Daly said

"We are willing to meet and discuss that and anything else without pre-conditions and have been since last week," NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr told ESPN.com in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon. "We're more than happy to do that, but one side does not get to define the agenda."

The NHLPA, a source told ESPN.com, told its players on a conference call Tuesday evening that the league only wanted to discuss the "Make Whole" provision as long as the players accepted the rest of the league's offer in full.

Daly, however, told ESPN.com on Tuesday there is some wiggle room on the rest of the framework.

"We told them while there was only limited flexibility, the offer was not presented as a 'Take it or leave it,' " Daly said. "We are willing to talk about it. But if their position is every other element of our offer is unacceptable -- which they suggested to us at the meeting on Thursday (and I think Don is on the record of stating) -- I'm not sure there is much to talk about currently."

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