After three days of marathon meetings between the owners and players – without outside influence on either side — there seemed to be some promise in the ongoing NHL lockout discussions. And then, it was gone.
On Thursday evening, a group of 16 players met with Donald and Steve Fehr to discuss the talks that took place without them earlier in the week, according to Comcast Sportnet. An hour later, deputy commissioner Bill Daly — one of only two NHL members in attendance — returned to the league offices with the latest proposal from the players association.
The Fehrs addressed the media around 6 p.m. on Thursday, and thought the players had made strong strides towards reaching a deal.
“We think there is a complete agreement on dollars, there shouldn’t be much reason why we can’t get an agreement in the near term. Players have gone a very, very long way.”
Cue the optimism that the NHL could potentially return in 2012.
Fehr also addressed that he believed that the players had agreed to the “make-whole” agreement that the NHL proposed a few weeks back. As a result, the $300 million difference would be made up in the players’ pension plan. Also outlined in the proposal from the players was contract length for the proposed CBA lasting eight years with an opt-out clause after six. The NHL originally outlined a 10-year contract.
The players also moved on the length of contract stipulation, reducing their outline to a seven-year deal for players re-signing with their team. The NHL looked to have a five-year limit on contracts.
With all that being said, the players left the press conference — but returned in less than an hour to the podium. But this time, the news was much more grim.
The NHL (reportedly Daly) left a voice mail for Steve Fehr that the players latest steps were “unacceptable.”
Don Fehr: It's not positive. We were advised in a voice mail message that the moves the players made were not acceptable.— Nick Cotsonika (@cotsonika) December 07, 2012
After Fehr addressed the media following the phone call, commissioner Bettman entered the discussions, and the two sides held a joint press-conference where the news went from grim to bad to worse.
Bettman spoke about the players’ latest proposal as “not acceptable” and he cannot envision a scenario “playing less than a 48-game season,” according to ESPN.
Interestingly, Bettman also accused Fehr of “using spin to make it appear the two sides are closer than where the league thinks they are.”
With all this being said, it looks as though the negotiations between the league and players has hit another snag, with no more discussions scheduled for the remainder of this week — or any time for that matter. In even more interesting news, reports say that Ron Hainsey was told by the NHL that bringing (Donald) Fehr back into the room could be a “deal-breaker.”