With lockout deadline looming, NHLPA head Don Fehr says negotiations are 'recessed'
Published Friday, August 31, 2012 4:14PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, August 31, 2012 9:45PM EDT
Contract talks with the National Hockey League broke off in New York and will not resume until the league expresses its intention to negotiate, the head of the players’ association said Friday.
Don Fehr said collective bargaining with the NHL went on hiatus at the league’s request following the NHL Players’ Association’s latest contract offer.
“At this point the talks are recessed,” Fehr told reporters on Friday. “We will not be discussing these issues again unless and until there is an indication from the NHL that they are prepared to do so. Hopefully that will come soon.”
The major sticking point in negotiations remains the fate of players’ wages. The players’ association has rejected attempts to reduce salaries across the board. Instead, the union has suggested limiting future contracts.
“While they are not prepared to absolutely reduce their salaries, they are prepared to substantially limit the growth in salaries for a significant period of time. That means that as growth continues, the players’ share will fall,” Fehr said.
TSN analyst Aaron Ward reported on Twitter Friday that, according to players, the NHL’s first proposal looked to reduce salaries by 24 per cent. The league’s second proposal targeted a 19.3 per cent salary cut.
The NHLPA has instead proposed that the players’ share of league revenues be reduced over the next three years. In the fourth year of the deal, players would return to their current 57 per cent take of league revenues.
Fehr said the union’s most recent offer dropped that fourth-year take below that target, but the league was not interested.
He said the NHLPA would remain in New York for the next two weeks in the hopes that negotiations would resume.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told reporters on Friday that the league had made a reasonable offer and the union’s response was substandard.
“What I thought was starting as a promising week, after we made our substantial counterproposal on Tuesday, ends … in disappointment,” Bettman said.
“We did not get a proposal from the union – I call it more of a response. The response basically was… ‘We are not going to reset; anything we are prepared to do comes out of future revenues.’”
Bettman said no further talks had been scheduled, but either side could restart negotiations if they had something to bring to the table.
The current collective bargaining agreement ends on Sept. 15. The league has said it would lock players out if a new agreement was not in place by that date.