NHL, players union resume negotiations
By JEFF Z. KLEIN
the new york times | November 07,2012
NEW YORK — Bargaining resumed Tuesday afternoon between the NHL and its players’ association, a constructive turn in the seven-week lockout.
Donald Fehr, the union’s executive director, expressed cautious optimism before the talks began at an undisclosed location in Manhattan.
“The players’ view has always been that you ought to keep negotiating until you find a way to get an agreement, and you stay at it day by day, so it’s very good to be getting back to the table,” Fehr told reporters at the union’s temporary offices.
NHL officials have not commented on the session, and Fehr said he was not certain whether Commissioner Gary Bettman would be present.
Several NHL owners arrived in New York over the past 24 hours and were expected to be present for the talks.
On the union side, about 15 players, including Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby, attended the negotiations.
“We hope that this time it produces more progress than we have seen in the past, and we can figure out a way to make an agreement and get the game back on the ice as soon as possible,” Fehr said ahead of Wednesday’s bargaining session.
The biggest snag among many to be worked out was the so-called make whole provision, by which existing contracts would be paid in full despite a proposed reduction in player earnings from 57 percent of league revenues to 50 percent.
“Issues the players are concerned about obviously remain the same and don’t bear a lot of repetition,” Fehr said, then referred to the salary cap and 24 percent pay cut players accepted to settle the season-long lockout of 2004-5. “But players haven’t seen any need to go backward, given the history of the last negotiations and given the level of revenue increase since then, and player contracting rights are very important to them, obviously.”
Union officials left open the possibility of a media briefing from Fehr and some players after the talks break for the evening. Besides Crosby, the players confirmed present were Craig Adams, David Backes, Martin Biron, Chris Campoli, Matthieu Darche, Ron Hainsey, Johan Hedberg, Milan Lucic, Manny Malhotra, Steve Montador, Scott Thornton and Kevin Westgarth.
But Fehr refused to speculate on whether the talks were headed in a direction to end the lockout, which has wiped out the October and November portions of the NHL schedule as well as the Jan. 1 Winter Classic.
“I don’t want to prejudge or indicate that I have any particular impressions or expectations,” Fehr said. “That’s what the meetings are for.”