NHL angrily breaks off CBA negotiations, plunging the season into jeopardy
Talks between the NHL and Players Association on a new collective bargaining agreement were angrily broken off Thursday night by the league with deputy commissioner Bill Daly saying the union's response to the league's latest proposal was "insulting to our owners."
In response, commissioner Gary Bettman said everything that had been on the table after two days of face-to-face meetings between players and owners at a New York hotel was now off the table, including the "make-whole" provision which the league had increased to $300 million from $211 million.
In response, union head Donald Fehr said, "This looks like it's not going to be resolved in the near future."
"I can tell you I'm very discouraged," said Lightning wing Marty St. Louis, who attended the negotiations. "We try to engage them and keep negotiating but unless we say yes to what they want there is no deal. Put it this way. I won't be skating any time soon. We were making progress and then you get an ultimatum. Tough to take. Time to take some time off, maybe go on vacation. That's where I'm at."
Lightning owner Jeff Vinik also was at the negotiations and released this statement:
“After working this week with our players toward what we hoped would be a new agreement, owners presented a proposal we believed would benefit
those great players, ownership, and, ultimately, our fans for many years to come. While trust was built and progress was made along the way, unfortunately, our proposal was rejected by the Union's leadership. My love for the game is only superseded by my commitment to our fans and I hold out hope we can soon join with our players and return the game back to its rightful place on the ice.”
In the league's view, the problem was the union's response to what the league had offered on Wednesday, which in addition to the "make-whole" provision, included backing off on changes to some player contract issues and salary arbitration. But Bettman said that was contingent on the union agreeing to three things that were vitally important to the owners:
* Term limits on contracts (five years max except for when signing one's own free agents which would have a seven-year limit.
* The length of the CBA (10 years with an eight-year provision to reopen).
* Compliance issues (no limits on escrow and no buyout of players outside the cap system).
Games already have been canceled through Dec. 14. The Jan. 1 Winter Classic also is canceled as is the All-Star Game.