As the clock is ticking towards a second lost season in seven years, the NHL is still not close to getting back on the ice. Federal mediation, as expected, has yielded no progress this week in CBA talks between the NHL and NHLPA. “We are disappointed that the mediation process was not successful,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said today.
So where are things headed and when if any could we see a breakthrough in talks?
Talks remain at the same spot they have for the past two weeks in the eyes of NHL sources. The possibility of any breakthrough in talks isn’t going to happen until at least mid-December, when the feeling is the players might blink.
If we’re going to see NHL hockey this season, it’s going to be because of a last minute deal made in the late December/early January timeframe, sources from both sides contend this evening. At least that’s where things remain headed.
League sources remain a bit more optimistic of there being a critical breakthrough in talks 2-4 weeks down the road, but several players I’ve spoken to in the past 72 hours strongly believe there won’t be hockey this season.
NHL officials contend that Gary Bettman is fully committed to calling the season off if there is no deal in place by mid-January and the players pretty much know it I’m told
A critical meeting coming up is the Board of Governors meeting on December 5th and it’s widely believed a specific timeframe on when to cancel the season is expected to be agreed upon between the BOG as discussions on this issue have already been formulated in recent weeks. The sense remains that Bettman and the Board of Governors have no interest in letting this play out into February like the 2004-2005 lockout and won’t consider a season under 40 games.
While the likes of Bettman, Daly and the Fehr brothers have become a disaster in trying to negotiate a new CBA, could the owners meeting with the players without Bettman, Daly, and the Fehr’s lead to the two sides finding common ground?
Citing multiple sources, ESPN reports that Bettman proposed to Fehr a meeting between owners and players only, with no league or NHLPA staff present. Fehr is believed to be considering the option but has yet to respond to the league, according to the report.
“We want to find a way to get to a deal,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said. “Nothing else has worked. The commissioner felt that we might as well propose something different. We will see how they respond.”