Bettman 'pleased' NHL talks are ongoing, mum on details
Published Wednesday, December 5, 2012 6:36AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, December 5, 2012 9:56PM EST
NHL negotiations appeared to have taken an optimistic tone Wednesday as talks between players and owners continued for a second straight day.
League commissioner Gary Bettman said he was pleased with how negotiations were unfolding, but offered few details during a 22-second news conference.
"I'm pleased that the process is ongoing and out of respect for that process I'm not going to say any more. And I'm not going to take any questions, see you later," Bettman told reporters, as he emerged from a two-hour Board of Governors meeting.
The comments came as players and owners continued talks in New York Wednesday, one day after what was described as possibly "the best day" yet after months of fruitless negotiations.
Bettman, along with NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr, were left out of the discussions in an apparent attempt to ease tensions and allow the owners and players to talk directly to each other.
Leafs minority owner Larry Tanenbaum is one of six owners who have been involved in this week’s negotiations.
“As long as we’re talking, we’re hopeful,” he said.
Late Tuesday, NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr spoke to reporters alongside NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly -- the first time representatives from both sides have appeared together since the negotiations began.
"In some ways I'd say it might be the best day we've had which isn't to paint too overly optimistic of a picture," Fehr said. "There's still a lot of work to do and a lot to be done but we will be back at it tomorrow morning."
They thanked the 18 players involved in the talks, as well as the six owners.
Neither side has leaked any information about the outstanding issues or possible progress being made in the discussions -- which lasted until after midnight Tuesday.
The biggest point of contention during the negotiations has centre around money.
Both the league and the union have proposed a 50/50 split of revenue, however they remain separated on the outside payments that would ease the transition from the previous deal, which saw players receive 57 per cent.
The NHL has offered $211 million in deferred compensation while the union has asked for $393 million.
"It's a good sign that they're still talking, that they're finding something to talk about. No one would have been surprised if that meeting yesterday lasted two hours and then everyone went home," CTV’s Roger Smith said, reporting from New York.
"Everyone knows how fragile yet urgent this process is at this time, and both sides seem quite disciplined in not blabbing a lot to the media which might throw things off track."
New Jersey Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello told reporters he was encouraged by Wednesday’s talks. The same sentiment was echoed by Ottawa Senators general manager Bryan Murray.
“The fact they’re still talking…you have to be positive about that.”
TSN hockey analyst and former Detroit Red Wings defenceman Aaron Ward said this round of negotiations saw fresh faces and fresh ideas.
“For the first time, like a light switch flickered on,” he said. “The league is now willing to discuss those issues that the players’ association really wanted to discuss.”
Reports state that Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby and Penguins co-owner Ron Burkle have emerged as leaders and voices of reason in the closed-door discussions.
The two sides have cleared their schedules for the rest of the week, asking for an adjournment to a hearing with the Quebec Labour Board in Montreal concerning the legality of locking out members of the Canadiens. That meeting, originally scheduled for Thursday, is expected to be pushed back beyond Friday.
The players have been locked out since Sept. 16, and the season has so far been cancelled up until Dec. 16, along with the all star weekend and the Winter Classic outdoor match.
The NHL has been losing approximately $20 million a day throughout the labour dispute.
According to The Canadian Press, sources have indicated that owners have discussed a possible 50-game season. There had been talk of a 60-game season in the event of a labour settlement but some owners have said it would make for too ambitious of a timeline.
With files from The Canadian Press