By Andrew Schopp
Negotiations between the NHL and NHLPA broke down again Thursday despite 20 hours of negotiating sessions Tuesday and Wednesday.
An offer by the NHLPA was rejected Thursday – a proposal NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a press conference was not acceptable.
Bettman accused the NHLPA of “spinning us all into an emotional frenzy,” by misleading fans and media into believing a deal was imminent, saying it was “unfair to the fans and the process.”
NHLPA union boss Donald Fehr told the Canadian Press he believed the NHL and NHLPA were very close to a deal Wednesday.
“The take or give or bottom line on all this is: it appears that the union is suggesting because we made substantial movements in certain areas that we’re close to a deal,” said Bettman. “But those moves were contingent on the union specifically agreeing on other things, which while the union may have moved towards, didn’t agree to.”
NHL.com released statements made Thursday by several NHL owners including Larry Tanenbaum of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“I must admit that I was shocked at how things have played out over the last 48 hours,” said Tanenbaum in a statement.
“The owners tried to push forward and made a number of concessions and proposals, which were not well-received. I question whether the union is interested in making an agreement,” he said.
A major sticking point for both sides is the length of a new collective bargaining agreement. The NHL is seeking a long-term, 10-year deal, whereas the NHLPA’s offer Thursday was for eight years with an opt-out option after six, according to the Canadian Press.
“What can we tell the hockey fans of Canada? You can tell them that it looks like this is not going to be resolved in the immediate future,” Fehr told Canadian Press.
As the lockout enters its 83rd day, there are no further talks scheduled between the two sides.
Thursday night was the scheduled premier of the HBO series; “24/7 Road to the Winter Classic,” following the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings leading up to the now cancelled NHL Winter Classic between the two teams in Ann Arbor, Michigan.