Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Tampa Bay Lightning

NHL lockout talks stall again; Bettman: 'We're still far apart'

The NHL and its locked-out players had two negotiating sessions Wednesday in New York.

The result? The Jan. 27 All-Star Game in Columbus is expected to be canceled today and half of December's games are on the block as well.

There also were plenty of raw feelings from players after the league rejected what they believed was a major concession on the core economic issues.

"It's disappointing," Lightning wing Marty St. Louis said. "I feel they're trying to bully us and trying to draw a line in the sand.

"I don't know where you go from here. It's very frustrating."

Games already have been canceled through Nov. 30 as has the Jan. 1 Winter Classic. But there was anticipation a breakthrough was imminent when players agreed to the 50-50 split of revenues owners have demanded.

But players, who last season received 57 percent of revenue, also proposed the league increase the money allotted to guarantee current contracts — the so-called "make-whole" provision — to $393 million from $211 million.

The $182 million difference works out to about $6.1 million for each of the 30 teams or $1.22 million for each year of a five-year collective bargaining agreement.

But the league did not budge.

"Nothing on the significant economic issues," union head Donald Fehr told reporters. "On the big things, there was no reciprocity in any meaningful sense."

"We're still far apart," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said, adding the league is losing $18 million to $20 million a day in revenue while players are losing $8 million to $10 million.

No formal negotiations are scheduled, though deputy commissioner Bill Daly and union lead counsel Steve Fehr are expected to speak Friday.

"We're dealing with a union that really isn't trying to negotiate, make any deal that we can live with for the long-term health of this game," Bettman said.

"We want to negotiate," St. Louis said. "We came their way again, and nothing. They keep telling us to keep coming. But they're staying where they are, so you end up negotiating against yourself. And that's definitely something we don't want to do.

"I mean, $180 million apart. You divide that by 30 teams over five years, I can't believe that 30 owners don't want to do that."

To read the union's complete proposal, go to tampabay.com/blogs/lightning.

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