NHL labour talks wrap up
Labour talks wrapped up after seven hours Monday as a larger group
got involved hoping to help make some headway in the 6 1/2-month-old
The session at an undisclosed location in Toronto began around 1 p.m.
EDT and wrapped up around 8 p.m. As expected, the NHLPA did not come
armed with a proposal.
''The Players' Association began today's meeting by rejecting the two
proposals made by the NHL on March 17,'' NHL executive vice-president
Bill Daly said in a statement. ''Thereafter, we discussed the status
of our current situation and, in general terms, possible concepts for
moving the process forward. The meeting concluded with both sides
agreeing to explore these concepts further internally, and to talk
again later this week.''
A bigger group got together this time around, with NHLPA president
Trevor Linden and the players' executive committee joining the fray
as well as the negotiation team from the ownership group led by
chairman of the board Harley Hotchkiss of the Calgary Flames, as well
as New Jersey Devils GM and CEO Lou Lamoriello.
They joined the usual cast, including NHLPA executive director Bob
Goodenow, senior director Ted Saskin, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman
Goodenow and Bettman will schedule another meeting for the near
future according to sources.
"We discussed some concepts aimed at addressing the challenges faced
by all of us as a result of the NHL's lockout and subsequent
cancellation of the season," Saskin said in a staement. ''Although no
meetings were scheduled today, I expect Bob and Gary will be speaking
soon to set up future discussions."
While the two sides were in the room talking, the NHL went ahead and
filed a second charge against the NHLPA with the National Labor
Relations Board in the United States on Monday, this time challenging
the union's threat of de-certification for agents representing
The NHLPA has warned agents, although not in writing, they faced
possible de-certification if they represented any player crossing the
line to be a replacement player.
The NHL hinted at the use of replacement players at a March 1 board
of governors meeting, and planned to revisit the issue at an April
20th board of governors meeting in New York.
The league first filed a charge against the NHLPA with the NLRB on
March 25 over a union policy that appears to financially penalize
members who become replacement players.
The league called the union policy, which states a member would have
to pay back any work stoppage benefits if he chose to become a
replacement player next season, ''coercive'' and in violation
of ''the players' rights under the labour laws to decide individually
whether to be represented by a union.''
The lockout pay ranges from $5,000 to $10,000 US a month per player.
The NLRB will investigate the charge and decide whether or not to
issue a complaint on the league's behalf. If a complaint is issued,
players may not have to repay their benefits if they become
The two sides, meanwhile, had not met since March 17 in New York,
when the NHLPA was presented two proposals by the NHL, the first a
team-by-team $37.5-million salary cap deal that did not have a fixed
link between player costs and league revenues - ''linkage.''
The second offer was based on linkage, with player costs to take up
no more than 54 per cent of league revenues.
The league had given the union until this Friday to work off the ''de-
linked'' offer, but instead the union arrived Monday in Toronto
without a counter-proposal.
McKenzie: Monday was mildly encouraging
Was there enough done at Monday's Collective Bargaining Agreement
talks to suggest we will see a negotiated settlement before we see
Yes, there is a chance. Certainly a better chance than there was 24-
48 hours ago. We'll call this mildly encouraging.
I say mildly encouraging because it's way too early in the process to
be jumping up and down and saying they are on their way to a
negotiated settlement - that we've got great traction.
In reality, we have the beginning of the opportunity to have traction.
But that's still more than we've had in eight to ten months, so
that's a positive sign.
I also like the fact that Monday's meeting featured a larger group
than we've seen at the table before. It included Jeremy Jacobs of the
Boston Bruins, who is considered by the players to be the hardest of
the hard-line owners. If there was something at the meeting that he
considered unpalatable, he could have just got up and left the table
and created a storm that way, but he didn't.
So while we have to acknowledge the positives, I do so with mild
optimism. It's too early to go beyond that.
There's no question, however, that both sides realize that the time
for a negotiated settlement is now. If they don't get closer in the
next week or two, then the owners will have to decide once and for
all at their April 20th meeting if they are going to go the
replacement player route, or the black hole route - which would be a
repeat of this non-season.
The owners know that neither one of those options is something they
want to do.
They will be looking for a negotiated settlement in the next week or
two, as will the Players Association, but let's not get too excited
For TSN.ca, I'm Bob McKenzie.