NHL’s Bill Daly questions players’ urgency in labor talks
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said Wednesday that he’s not sure the players union has been treating the Sept. 15 expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement as an urgent deadline for reaching accord on a new deal, and suggested that the idea of losing part or all of training camp hasn’t given the union a sense of urgency.
The league and the NHL Players Assn. haven’t had formal talks since last Friday, and no additional negotiations are scheduled. Training camps are scheduled to open on Sept. 21.
“Maybe we’re at a point where we need to find a way to move the ball forward. We’re very close to Sept. 15, which we consider a very meaningful day. We hope it’s as meaningful to the players association. I don’t know that it is,” Daly told The Times.
“Our regular season doesn’t open until Oct. 11. Maybe a shortened training camp or the elimination of training camp is not as big a deal to them. A lockout of any length or cancellation of preseason games would have an impact on the business. Hopefully, they recognize that.”
Donald Fehr, the NHLPA’s executive director, disputed the perception that the union is not taking the Sept. 15 deadline seriously.
“The notion that players would not take Sept. 15 as a credible date upon which owners might choose to institute a lockout is just not credible,” he said by phone late Wednesday.
Daly and Fehr’s brother Steve, the NHLPA’s counsel and second in command during labor talks, were scheduled to have dinner together on Wednesday. The NHL has called a meeting of its Board of Governors for next Thursday in New York, where Commissioner Gary Bettman is expected to outline the status of the labor talks. Players are also scheduled to meet in New York next week.
Daly said a dialogue has continued since last week. “There has certainly been no breakdown in communications,” he said. But he also said the league had made “the last real proposal,” and that the last negotiating session was “disappointing.”
The NHLPA has posted on its website a list of talking points about the negotiations. USA Today reported on Wednesday that the union had also sent a memo to players outlining various scenarios regarding what might happen during a lockout, including the right of injured players to receive paychecks and the ramifications of agreeing to play in other leagues during an NHL-imposed lockout.
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