As promised, Gary Bettman’s most recent proposal to end the NHL lockout will come off the table on Friday, sending the league’s labor negotiations into what could be a lengthy state of limbo.
“When we delivered the proposal last Tuesday, we told them it would be on the table through today,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun on Thursday. “Having not reached agreement through today, I expect that we’ll formally notify the union Friday that the proposal is no longer on the table. We’re going to take it back internally and figure out where we go from here.”
Daly did not rule out the possibility of the NHL tweaking its offer, but it’s clear the league is waiting for NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr to begin negotiating off the proposal made by Bettman and not off the one crafted by the players’ union.
“This proposal no longer works because it was a proposal to save 82 games,” Daly said. “We have to re-think where we are, and what type of season we’re looking at, and we have to formulate and construct a proposal that makes sense for the reality of where we are.”
The next step for the NHL comes on Friday when the league is expected to cancel all games through the month of November. Fehr told ESPN he was not surprised by the NHL’s decision to withdraw its proposal, saying the NBA used a similar tactic last year during its labor war with the players, which resulted in a Thanksgiving labor agreement and a 66-game season.
“Review the history here,” Fehr told LeBrun. “They make a proposal, it's essentially a take it or leave it, we respond on the core economics, they take 10 minutes and say no. They tell all the players if we're agreeable to everything except the Make Whole (provision), including all the stuff that's in there, I can give Gary a telephone call. And then we have made several efforts, including yesterday, to say we're prepared to sit down and negotiate with no pre-conditions. They essentially said 'No.'
"It takes two to negotiate. They seem to be really good at imposing deadlines and issuing ultimatums and having lockouts. It seems to be something they're well-practiced at."
Meanwhile, even Barack Obama is getting fed up with the NHL’s work stoppage. As a guest on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno on Wednesday, President Obama was asked by a viewer [via e-mail] if there was anything he could do to end the lockout.
“Every time this happens, I just want to remind the owners and the players: you guys make money because you’ve got a whole bunch of fans out there who are working really hard,” Obama said.
“They buy tickets. They’re watching on TV. Y’all should be able to figure this out. Get this done.”