NHL lockout talks looked promising as the week neared an end, with the NHL and NHLPA meeting for four consecutive days, but the optimism was dashed when the sides ended the session with rise in tension and no closer to a deal that would save the season.
Sources told ESPN New York that Friday’s evening session included tense exchanges between some players and owners, as well as NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. The sessions had brought progress on revenue sharing and some other economic issues, but the two sides remained far apart on some major sticking points, including a “Make Whole” proposal to honor existing player contracts.
“We thought we were much closer together on a structure of a deal than suggestions were,” said NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr. “(The NHL) came back to us and said, ‘No, we’re very, very far apart on a structure of the deal.’ ”
Adding to the NHL lockout tension are reports that the league is upset at the NHLPA for failing to properly communicate its latest proposal.
Fehr said that isn’t true.
“Understand that their proposal is made in front of players, in the room, who hear it,” Fehr said. “Owners can’t come to meetings when they want to if they want to hear stuff directly but a player can, at the union’s expense, come here for himself and all the rest of it.
“That pretty much speaks for itself, I think.”
The four days of talks had represented the biggest development in weeks for NHL lockout progress. But there is still a chance for progress, the Sporting News reported — the sides have agreed to meet again on Saturday.