NEW YORK — The NHL put the course of ongoing labor negotiations back in the hands of the players’ association, and left union head Donald Fehr with “some things to consider” Friday night.
A bigger problem might be a wider gap between the sides than the players thought.
After three seemingly positive days of talks, things went a bit sour when negotiations ended for the day. The union was under the impression the numbers suggested they were closer to an agreement. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman disagreed.
“Gary made a comment (Thursday) that there is still a lot of work to do. I think, given today’s session, there is still a lot of work to do,” Fehr said. “We looked at some of the numbers on the various proposals and we thought we were much closer together on the structure of a deal than the suggestions were. They came back to us and said, ‘No, we are very very far apart on the structure of the deal.”
The union is beginning to feel that the NHL isn’t ready to make a deal now, even if the players were suddenly willing to accept the league’s offer in full — which they are not.
“At one point the question was asked: ‘If the players would agree to everything that’s in your financial proposal, what you’re saying is you still won’t make an agreement unless the players give up everything in all of the player-contracting rights in your proposal?” Fehr said. “The answer was, ‘Yes, because that’s what we want.”