The NHL and NHLPA met once again, this time in New York for 90 minutes to work out the parameters of the new CBA. This time they focused on the issue of player contracts.
Among the discussion points in the meeting were maximum contract length, variance on year-to-year salary within a contract, length of entry-level deals, salary arbitration and the timeline for restricted and unrestricted free agency.
As we remember, over the past few months, both sides have been up and down with the numbers on these issues. Most notably, the opening offer from the NHL which limited contracts to 5 years, 10 years of restricted free agency, 5 year entry level contracts, and no arbitration.
“I think it is fair to say while there was a candid discussion on those issues and each side explained their position to the other, I don’t think there was any progress on any of those issues,” NHL Deputy Commissoner Bill Daly said.
Daly, NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr and Los Angeles Kings forward Kevin Westgarth had what was deemed an informal lunch Saturday after four straight days of meetings, during which they discussed many of these same issues. Both sides got back together Sunday in a more formal setting, finally, with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA Executive Director Don Fehr taking part.
“From the beginning, it is sort of been, ‘We want it, because that is our view of the world and we’d like to have it,’ ” Fehr said about the NHL’s player-contracting proposals. “It just shifts all the risks against the players. It flies in the face of something really important.
Daly disagreed with Fehr’s assertion that the NHL is unwilling to negotiate on specific contract issues, but also made it clear that this part of the CBA is very important to the NHL clubs.
Representatives from both sides will be in Toronto on Monday for the Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony, and both Daly and Fehr said they expect a discussion on future negotiating sessions. Fehr also said he would like the location of the meetings to shift to Toronto, the location of the NHLPA’s main office.