NHL cancels games through November
Efforts by the players’ association to resume negotiations this week were rebuffed by the NHL because the union declined to agree to start bargaining off the framework of the league’s offer or issue another proposal using the league’s proposal as a starting point.
There is a major divide between the sides over how to deal with existing player contracts. The union wants to ensure that those are all paid in full without affecting future player contracts. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman expressed a willingness to discuss the ‘‘make whole’’ provisions on existing contracts, but only if the economic portions of the league’s offer are accepted first by the union.
‘‘Last week the owners gave us what amounts to a ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ proposal,’’ Fehr said. ‘‘We responded with the framework for three proposals on the players’ share, each of which moved significantly, toward their stated desire for a 50-50 split of HRR, with the only condition being that they honor contracts they have already signed. Honoring contracts signed between owners and players is a reasonable request. Unfortunately, after considering them for only 10 minutes they rejected all of our proposals.’’
This lockout, the third of Bettman’s tenure as commissioner, began Sept. 16.
‘‘We have repeatedly advised the owners that the players are prepared to sit down and negotiate on any day, with no preconditions. The owners refused,’’ Fehr said. ‘‘They apparently are only interested in meeting if we first agree to everything in their last offer, except for perhaps a few minor tweaks and discussion of their ‘make whole’ provision.
‘‘The message from the owners seems to be: if you don’t give us exactly what we want, there is no point in talking. They have shown they are very good at delivering deadlines and demands, but we need a willing partner to negotiate. We hope they return to the table in order to get the players back on the ice soon.’’