The second day of meetings between smaller groups from the National Hockey League and the NHL Players’ Association ended without a new collective bargaining agreement. No firther meetings are scheduled but both sides confirmed their intention to meet again.
There was some good dialogue,” said Ted Saskin, NHLPA senior director. “We clearly have some serious differences of opinion but we continue to try and find ways to bridge the gap.”
“We’ve had two good days of communication,” NHL executive vice president Bill Daly told reporters. “But we still have very strong philosophical differences.”
The meetings began on Wednesday as an eleventh-hour effort by NHLPA president Trevor Linden to save the season. Linden invited Daly, Calgary Flames’ part-owner Harley Hotchkiss and NHL outside counsel Bob Batterman to meet with himself, Saskin and Players’ Association outside counsel John McCambridge.
Both NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA executive director Bob Goodenow were left uninvited.
“I give Trevor Linden a lot of credit for bringing us together again,” Daly stated, also calling the meetings “the best dynamic to date in this process.”
Neither side will confirm exactly what was discussed over the last two days.
“We just continue to work very hard at trying to satisfy both parties,” said Daly.
Saskin confirmed that a salary cap, what the owners refer to as “cost-certainty,” is still an issue.
The second meeting came amid a flurry of rumors. Earlier in the day, the Phoenix Coyotes and Mighty Ducks of Anaheim were reported to have begun the process of setting up a training camp, ordering equipment and contacting personnel. Both teams denied those reports.
“There’s no substance to that whatsoever,” said Ducks head coach Mike Babcock. “That’s not true at all.”
“That’s completely erroneous,” Phoenix general manager Mike Barnett said. “I have not spoken to any members of our roster in two months. I don’t even know where one-third of our roster is. Some of them are spread all over the globe. No one in our management group has contacted our players since November.”
Hotchkiss was not present at Thursday’s meeting after attending Wednesday’s session, as he had returned to Calgary for the funeral of J.R. (Bud) McCaig, a part-owner of the Flames who died on Tuesday.
The two sides have agreed to continue meeting, however the timing for that is unknown. “We don’t have anything scheduled,” said Daly.
Saskin simply stated, “the lines of communication remain open.”