Labor sides have no plans to meet
Although there was limited communication between NHL Players' Association special counsel Steve Fehr and NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly over the weekend, the stalemate between the sides continues, making it likely that the Winter Classic will be canceled.
Daly said Monday the two sides had no plans to meet but that the league is ready and willing to meet as soon as necessary.
"No new news. We withdrew our most recent proposal on Friday, and now we are spending time thinking about our next proposal and how best to get closer to a resolution," Daly said by email. "We hope the union is doing the same thing. Given the fact that the union refused even to discuss our last proposal, it would appear that we still have a large gulf to bridge."
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The league and union have not resumed negotiations since swapping proposals in Toronto almost two weeks ago, and it seems clear the impasse is not close to ending.
Fehr denied that the union is not willing to play ball.
"Since the last bargaining meeting on Oct. 18, we have consistently made it clear to the League that we are ready to meet and are willing to discuss all ideas, certainly including their last proposal," he told ESPN.com. "The league has unfortunately continued to decline to meet. Their position makes it difficult to move the process forward, as it is obviously hard to make progress without talking."
Since rejecting the union's trio of proposals, the league has made two rounds of game cancellations. The latest, announced on Friday, wiped out the regular-season schedule for November. Earlier this week, a source familiar with the league's plan told ESPNNewYork.com the league is expected to cancel the Winter Classic by Thursday. Sources now have told ESPN.com that Friday will be the day barring a last-minute change of plans by the league.
Although a last-ditch effort that could save the Winter Classic seems unlikely, Daly and Fehr did have a conversation Tuesday on a host of issues. In an email to ESPNNewYork.com Daly characterized the discussion as "substantive," although he was reluctant to say it would lead to progress between the two sides.
The NHL contracted University of Michigan's football stadium -- the Big House -- to host the event for a reported $3 million, according to Annarbor.com, and is set to make an installment of $250,000 on Friday.
If the league cancels by Friday, it will forfeit only the initial $100,000 payment made back in February.
NHLPA executive director Don Fehr flew to Minnesota and met with players on Monday.
Information from ESPN.com senior NHL writer Pierre LeBrun was included in this report.