Bettman: Owners, players should meet face-to-face

Bettman: Owners, players should meet face-to-face
November 29, 2012, 9:00 pm
Share This Post

Alan May not surprised by lack of progress by mediators

Gary Bettman figures if he and Don Fehr can’t get anywhere in their attempts at labor peace, maybe they should remove themselves from the equation and let the owners and players take a stab at it.

That’s what bettman proposed on Thursday after two days with federal mediator yielded zero progress in attempts to forge the parameters of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The NHLPA is expected to take the offer to its executive board and negotiating committee for consideration.

“After spending several hours with both sides over two days, the presiding mediators concluded that the parties remained far apart, and that no progress toward a resolution could be made through further mediation at this point in time,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said Thursday in a statement. “We are disappointed that the mediation process was not successful.”

Fehr did not rule out the possibility of meeting with representatives from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service in the future, but it’s clear the first try was little more than a waste of time.

“The mediators informed the parties that they did not think it was productive to continue the discussions further today,” Fehr said. “The mediators indicated that they would stay in contact with the league and the NHLPA, and would call the parties back together when they thought the time was right.”

With players scheduled to miss their fourth paychecks of the lockout on Friday, the pressure to give in to the owners’ demands is mounting. The owners, meanwhile, are scheduled to meet on Dec. 5.

In that meeting the owners are expected to discuss the possibility of cancelling the entire NHL season for the second time in eight years. If that happens, the NHL would be the first professional sports league in North America to cancel two full seasons because of a labor dispute.

The owners and players have agreed to a 50-50 split in league revenues, but are $182 million apart on how the league should honor existing contracts. The NHL has offered $211 million in deferred payments; the union is seeking $393 million.

The next step for the players union could be decertification, which would allow players to challenge the lockout under antitrust laws. Players in the NFL and NBA took similar measures and eventually came to an agreement.

The league already has cancelled 422 regular-season games through Dec. 14 and there appears to be an internal deadline of starting a shortened regular season no later than Jan. 1. That gives the NHL roughly two weeks to hammer out a deal, bring its players home from Europe, and begin training camps the last week of December.

Can it happen? Or will the league close its doors for a second time in eight years? Join the conversation below: