NHL and Players' Union Mum on New Agreement
The National Hockey League and the players union are mum on whether a new collective bargaining agreement will be reached in time to start the season as scheduled.
"The best work that can be done now is at the negotiating table," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said after emerging from a three-hour negotiation with the union.
"I don't make predictions," said NHL Players Association Executive Director Donald Fehr. "You do the best you can. You listen and explain yourself clearly and hope the other parties do likewise, and that gets you to an agreement. ... I'm not distressed by these meetings at all."
Negotiations resumed Tuesday as both sides work toward a new collective bargaining agreement before the current one expires Sept. 15 to avoid possible lockout. The league locked out its players in the 2004-05 season before the current labor agreement was reached.
"The parties are approaching this in an appropriate and businesslike manner and have got meetings scheduled going out into the future," Fehr said. "I wouldn't draw any particular significance to it beyond that."
Tuesday's talks focused on player safety and travel. Fehr said the sides also exchanged their positions on major issues such as revenue sharing, team salary floors, free agency and conference alignment.
Eleven players participated in Tuesday's session. The two sides will resume talks Friday.
The NHL is trying to avoid the labor debacle suffered by the NBA this season and the NFL last year.
The NBA played an abbreviated season after a five-month dispute resulted to a lockout until late December. The NFL also endured a lockout that shortened training camp last year.
A potential debacle in the negotiations could be the division of revenue as NHL team owners may seek to reduce the players share from 57 percent to around 50 percent, just like what NBA and NFL team owners managed to do.
Bettman is hoping that a new collective bargaining deal could be reached as soon as possible. "My hope is that we get together, and that collective bargaining be painless and quick. That would serve everybody's best interest," Bettman said.
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