NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman speaks to reporters following labor talks… (Louis Lanzano / Associated…)
Representatives of the NHL and the players’ association are scheduled to meet Monday in New York, though they won’t get together before late afternoon or early evening Eastern time.
Each side is expected to have large contingents at the discussions, with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman leading the league’s side and NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr leading the players’ delegation.
They haven't held formal negotiations in more than a week, and Bettman had suggested they take a two-week break. But the NHLPA contacted the league and set up the meeting. “Union’s invite, union’s agenda,” NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said Saturday. “Hopefully, they have something good to tell us.”
In the meantime, Detroit Red Wings defenseman Ian White called Bettman "an idiot," and Bettman took to the offensive about a Philadelphia Daily News story that suggested powerful Flyers owner Ed Snider might be eager to break ranks and make a deal. Bettman called the story “a fabrication,” but the newspaper stood by its story.
The NHL locked players out on Sept. 15 and has canceled games through Nov. 30, as well as the Jan. 1 Winter Classic. Players last week missed their third paycheck and will miss another before the end of the month.
If this round of talks goes sour, it’s likely the league will start canceling games into December and, after that, the All-Star Game at Columbus on Jan. 27.
Even if talks go nowhere in the next few days, there’s still plenty of time for a short season to be played. In the 2004-05 lockout, the NHL didn’t pull the plug until mid-February, though it might not be willing to wait as long this time around. And let’s not bring up next time, but we all know there will be a next time because that’s the way things seem to work. Or not work.
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