NEW YORK — Lots of questions, but still no answers in the NHL labor fight.
The league and the players’ association spent much of Saturday talking to each other via conference call. The conversations were strictly for the purpose of sharing information regarding the new contract offer the NHL made to the union late Thursday. The initial thought was that the sides would get together Sunday in New York to hold official negotiations for the first time in weeks, but those hadn’t been scheduled as of late Saturday afternoon.
“Some more informational sessions in the morning,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told The Associated Press regarding Sunday. “Nothing planned beyond that.”
The union pored over the latest NHL proposal aimed at ending the lockout that reached its 105th day Saturday and saving the delayed hockey season. The league would like to reach a deal no later than Jan. 11, which would allow training camps to start the following day, and a 48-game season to begin Jan. 19.
Saturday’s conference calls were scheduled Friday night so the union could ask league officials questions about the nearly 300-page proposal. Whether enough progress will be made to lead to face-to-face talks remains to be seen.
The sides haven’t gotten together since Dec. 13 with federal mediators. Bargaining sessions with only the NHL and union involved haven’t been held since Dec. 6, when talks abruptly ended after the players’ association made a counterproposal to the league’s previous offer. The league said that offer was contingent on the union accepting three elements unconditionally and without further bargaining.
The NHL then pulled all existing offers off the table. Two days of sessions with mediators the following week ended without any progress made.
The players’ association’s executive board and negotiating committee went over the new proposal during an internal conference call Friday.