NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, shown speaking to reporters following… (Louis Lanzano / Associated…)
Any optimism that a deal between the NHL and the Players’ Assn. might be imminent following the union’s presentation of a “comprehensive” collective bargaining proposal Wednesday morning lasted only a few hours.
That’s all it took for the sides to meet and for the NHL to reject the proposal, in which players said they had made moves toward the NHL’s stance in several areas.
“We are still far apart. It’s frustrating for everybody,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told reporters in New York.
He also said the league is losing $18 million to $20 million a day during the lockout, which it imposed on Sept. 15 when the previous collective bargaining agreement expired. Those losses are likely to be reflected in future proposals made by the NHL. The league already thinks the players are asking for too much money in the “make whole” provision that was designed to cushion the blow of escrow payments that players will have to make when their share of hockey-related revenue is reduced from last season's 57% to an agreed-upon 50%.
“To think our offer will be better as time goes on is not accurate,” Bettman said.
NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr, speaking before Bettman met with reporters, said the union had conceded about as much as it felt it could concede in order to satisfy the league’s demands.
“We've moved in their direction previously on a couple of the player contracting issues; the rest are very, very, very important to the players,” Fehr said earlier Wednesday.
No additional negotiations are scheduled, though it’s likely the two sides will at least touch base on Friday. The league is expected to extend its cancellation of games into December, after wiping out games through Nov. 30 and the Jan. 1 Winter Classic.
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