NHL to players: Full season not possible if Thursday deadline passes
The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, October 24, 2012 7:49AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, October 24, 2012 9:58PM EDT
The NHL says a full 82-game season is not possible if a new collective bargaining agreement isn't reached by Thursday.
And with no talks planned, a shortened schedule is beginning to look like the best-case scenario.
On Wednesday, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told The Canadian Press there is no way a full schedule can start after Nov. 2. The league has maintained that training camps would have to open by Friday in order for the season to begin a week later.
However, negotiations have stalled since the sides exchanged proposals last week.
An invitation from the NHL Players' Association to reopen talks "without preconditions" was quickly denied by the NHL on Tuesday night. The request came after a conference call with the union's executive board and was seen as a way to "bridge the gap," according to a NHLPA spokesman.
The league saw little value in sitting down together if neither side was prepared to offer something new.
"They have indicated a willingness to meet, but they also told us they had very little interest in the proposal we tabled last Tuesday," said Daly. "(They) also said they weren't making a new proposal. What would we be meeting about?"
Little progress has been made since commissioner Gary Bettman laid out a timeline last week that could see the full season preserved. Tension seems to be mounting.
"The league is apparently unwilling to meet," said Steve Fehr, the union's special counsel. "That is unfortunate as it is hard to make progress without talking."
The league's latest proposal included a 50-50 split of revenues between owners and players, and a number of changes to contracting rules, including a five-year term limit, shortened entry-level deals and unrestricted free agency pushed back to age 28 or eight years of service.
The union countered with three offers that focused solely on economics. Each of those saw revenue get to a 50-50 split over time -- an important provision for the NHLPA because it wants to ensure all current contracts are paid out in full.
The league remains open to tinkering with the "make whole" provision in its latest offer, which would see players receive deferred payments for any portion of their salary affected by an immediate drop in revenue share from 57 per cent to 50 per cent.
The NHL is coming off a season where it pulled in a record $3.3-billion in revenue.