The negotiations continued on Thursday for a third consecutive day as the NHL and the union try to inch closer and closer to a deal. And after a day of mostly negative news, NHLPA boss Donald Fehr confirmed it got a lot worse.
Just minutes after Fehr updated the media that the union presented an offer that they thought put them in "complete agreement" with the NHL on the money aspects, he returned to the podium with some bad news.
The talks are off.
More specifically, the union received word via voice mail -- that's right, VOICE MAIL -- that the offer was "unacceptable."
"This looks like it's not going to be resolved in the immediate future," Fehr said.
Now we're back to wondering what's going to happen because just minutes earlier things seemed to be going pretty well, all things considered.
The players association spent most of the day in internal meetings, trying to figure out how it wanted to respond to the offer made Wednesday night by the owners. The problem was it might have taken too long because when the players association went to make its presentation to the owners, Gary Bettman and the team owners were gone. That didn't sound good.
But what did sound good was what Fehr had to say. The bullet points:
-- The union made an offer on an eight-year CBA with an opt-out clause after six seasons.
-- Fehr explained that he believes there is an agreement on the pension issues which started to seem like a big concern this week.
-- The players proposed capping player contracts at eight years instead of the five years the owners want.
-- And, most important, Fehr said he believes they have come to a complete agreement on the financial issues, including on the "make-whole" issue.
So what does that leave? Well, all they have to hash out, it would seem, are the issues surrounding individual contracts. The owners still want to cap the contracts at five years -- seven years for players who re-sign with their team -- while the players want to cap it at eight years. Considering they hadn't offered any limit cap thus far, that's a big step.
The other aspect of the contracts that needs to be hammered out at this point is the variance between years. The owners want to put a stop to back-diving contracts, so they still need to figure out the rules of escalation/decreases year-to-year in contracts.
That was all before Fehr came back for Round 2 at the podium and said everything broke down and that some things were "off the table." Not even Fehr knows right now what is off the table, but no matter what it is, that's not good.
Sounds like we can forget those Christmas games now.