The seconds-in-command for the NHL and the players association met Saturday in what was described as a secret location in an effort to revive their stalled labor negotiations.
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly and NHLPA Special Counsel Steve Fehr restarted the talks a day after the league announced it had canceled the Jan. 1 Winter Classic outdoor game, its annual showcase. The league has canceled 327 games since it locked players out on Sept. 15, more than a quarter of the season.
Saturday's meeting was triggered by an apparent willingness by the league to budge on the “make whole” clause in its last proposal. That clause provided a means to defer the payment of money players would lose as a result of their share of hockey-related revenues dropping from 57% last season to 50% in the new collective bargaining agreement. The NHLPA contended that the league’s provision would cost them because the deferred payments would be counted against their future earnings.
Although even the hint of an agreement between the two sides on even the smallest of points raises the hopes of fans who haven’t already given up on the league and the season, it’s tough to say where this will lead. Donald Fehr, executive director of the NHLPA and Steve Fehr’s brother, sent a memo to players saying the league hadn’t made a new proposal and that Saturday’s talks came about as the result of efforts by both sides to find ways to resolve their differences.