Little revealed about long bargaining session; sides to meet again today

Published Nov. 7, 2012

NEW YORK — Negotiations between the NHL and the locked-out players' association lasted deep into Tuesday night, and went well enough that the sides agreed to hold more talks today.

Both sides kept details close to the vest after meeting for more than seven hours. That also could be a sign that the second round of talks in four days went well.

The marathon session — on Day 52 of the lockout — went until about 10:15 p.m. The location in New York was undisclosed, at request of the NHL, to avoid potential distractions.

"With meetings scheduled to resume (today), the league will not characterize the substance or detail of the discussions until their conclusion," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement.

Daly and union special counsel Steve Fehr were there, as they were for a long session by themselves Saturday. Tuesday they were joined by commissioner Gary Bettman, union executive director Donald Fehr, a handful of team owners and 13 players, including Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, who has been an active participant in the process.

"We're hopeful that we'll start bargaining and we'll continue bargaining until we find a way to make a deal," Donald Fehr said Tuesday before the talks. "Sometimes that goes in rather long sessions with short breaks and sometimes you take a few hours or half a day or a day to work on things before you come back together. I don't know which it will be."

Fehr's brother, Steve, met Daly on Saturday in secret. Neither provided many details, but both agreed the meeting was productive. Until then there had been no negotiations since Oct. 18.

Time is becoming a bigger factor every day. The lockout, which started Sept. 16 after the collective bargaining agreement expired, has already cost 327 regular-season games — including the New Year's Day outdoor Winter Classic in Michigan. The NHL has said a full 82-game season won't be played.

In October, the union responded to an NHL offer with three of its own, but all of those were quickly dismissed by the league. Since then the league has moved toward the players' side regarding the "make-whole" provision, which involves the payment of player contracts that are already in effect and whose share of the economic pie that money will come from.

Other core economic issues — mainly the split of hockey-related revenue — along with contract lengths, arbitration and free agency will also need to be agreed upon before a deal can be reached.