NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly: Players must compromise for labor deal

Published Sept. 22, 2012

It has been 11 days since the NHL and players association have had a formal negotiating session, and the player lockout that has delayed the start of training camps and caused the cancellation of all September preseason games is in Day 8 with no end in sight.

You wouldn't think splitting $3.3 billion in league revenue would be that difficult, and deputy commissioner Bill Daly was pretty clear where blame should be placed.

Asked what it would take to break the impasse, Daly said, "It will take some sense of compromise on the players association side to get things going."

Will the league compromise as well?

"I'm sure it will," Daly said. "I guess what I'm trying to say is we have made compromise already. We continually try to signal to them that we are in a negotiation, and so far they haven't negotiated with us."

This was Daly on a conference call with two Tampa Bay area reporters last week, making the league's case as part of a public relations contest that the players seem to be winning.

"Of course we care what our fans think, and we are cognizant of that," Daly said of public opinion. "That's why they need to hear our message as well as the players association's."

Canada's Globe and Mail says the league proposes a six-year deal in which players receive 49 percent of hockey-related revenue this season, 48 percent in 2013-14 and 47 percent the final four years.

The players, who last season got 57 percent of revenue, propose 54.3 percent this season and not less than 52.2 percent in the rest of a five-year deal.

Daly noted the league's latest offer is well off its first proposal, which cut the players' share of revenue to 43 to 46 percent. That created a storm of bad press and bad feelings among players, who gave back 24 percent of salaries after the 2004-05 lockout.

"We've obviously moved a long way from there in terms of our position currently," Daly said. "We'd just like to have a party on the other side of the table who's willing to negotiate finances with us."

Daly's assessment was not all gloom and doom. He said negotiations have been professional, and even though no formal meetings are taking place, the sides are in daily contact. But there was no indication the core money issue will be easily overcome. That led to this warning about the loss of games from a regular season that is supposed to start Oct. 11: "Once we start missing weeks to the regular season, you should assume games are going with it."

Which is why it seems counter-intuitive there have been no formal negotiations since Sept. 12, four days before the lockout.

"I understand the perception," Daly said. "What we've had a lack of is any degree of compromise or movement from the players association. They've really made one proposal, and they haven't moved off the one proposal. And in any negotiation, it's not really a negotiation if one side is making all the proposals and the other side is just waiting until they get what they want."

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