As the NHL lockouts continues to drag on, the owners and union ended their eight-day halt in negotiations by meeting on Monday evening in New York City. The meeting began just after 7 p.m. ET and lasted roughly an hour and a half.
The meeting was set at the request of the NHLPA, which did not want to go a lengthy amount of time with no meetings. Going into the meeting, not even the NHL knew what to expect and what the intentions of the union were but it seemed something was possibly brewing based on the list of attendees.
The league was represented by the staples: Gary Bettman, Bill Daly, NHL lawyer Bob Batterman, Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, Flames owner Murray Edwards and Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, but that wasn't all. A new face was added to the talks in Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke, who used to work alongside Bettman in the NHL executive offices.
The players side was represented by Donald Fehr and his brother and NHLPA lead counsel Steve Fehr, but they were joined by a total of 18 players for the meeting as well, five of them New York Rangers. Hey, they're probably already in Manhattan, so why not?
According to the NHLPA, the 18 members were as follows: Craig Adams, David Backes, Eric Brewer, Ryan Callahan, Dan Cleary, Mathieu Darche, Marian Gaborik, Josh Gorges, Ron Hainsey, Jeff Halpern, Shawn Horcoff, Vincent Lecavalier, Andy McDonald, Brooks Orpik, Brad Richards, Marc Staal, Martin St. Louis and Dan Winnik.
The actual meeting itself didn't last that long, but it doesn't necessarily mean things didn't go well at the table. It was announced shortly after the meeting broke up that the negotiations will continue into Tuesday. At this point, that can certainly be taken as a good sign ... or at worst a "not bad" sign.
It does make you wonder what the NHLPA was talking about to bring the NHL back to the tables again Tuesday. The NHL has said it doesn't have any offers left to make at this point and the NHLPA didn't bring a new offer to the table. Instead it seemed as if they were figuring out where each other is at right now.
"No new proposals were made," Fehr said afterward (via Ren Lavoie). "We are going to think about what was said and think about our next step."
That lack of a proposal has the NHL side growing more and more impatient, as Daly said after the meeting.
"I'm frustrated," Daly said, explaining how the league has requested a complete offer from the NHLPA but hasn't seen it yet. "We want a new proposal from them."
But it can't be any old proposal from the union. The NHL still has its standards, you know. Specifically, it wants a revenue split to be based on percentages, not fixed/guaranteed amounts.
So if the NHLPA didn't show up planning to submit a proposal, what did it spend nearly two hours doing? It wasn't introducing everybody to one another. Instead, Fehr explained the union wanted to talk about one of the major points of contention, contract rights.
Don Fehr said players tried engage owners re: player contracting rights, but #NHL wasn't interested. Fehr said he expects a meeting Tues.— Michael Grange (@michaelgrange) November 20, 2012
If the NHLPA didn't come with a new proposal, it would stand to reason the union's intention was to try to negotiate on the contract rights issues that the NHL remains adamant about, as do the players. It's actually about more than just the money.
It certainly sounds like it was a feeling-out meeting after a week of silence and the good news is that at least they decided the temperature was good enough to get back at it Tuesday. Perhaps the NHLPA will present something substantial to the league, although that's probably just wishful thinking. That would be pretty quick to put a whole offer together.