NHL Turns Down Talks With NHLPA, Dooming Chances for Full Regular-Season Schedule

NHL Turns Down Talks With NHLPA, Dooming Chances for Full Regular-Season ScheduleNEW YORK — The little hope that existed for a full NHL season appears to be gone.

Shortly after the players reached out to the league Tuesday night to restart stalled labor negotiations, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly rebuffed the union's attempt.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said last week, in presenting the league's most recent offer to the players, that if a new collective bargaining agreement wasn't reached by this Thursday, it would be impossible for a full regular-season schedule to be played.

No talks have been scheduled, and no last-minute discussions seem to be on tap.

"I don't anticipate any taking place for the balance of the week," Daly said in an email Tuesday night. "The union has rejected the proposal we made last Tuesday and is not offering another one. We see nothing to be gained at this point by meeting just to meet."

Following a call for the union's executive board Tuesday night, the players association told the NHL it is willing to meet Wednesday "or any other date, without preconditions, to try to reach an agreement," the players association said in a statement.

The NHL's response wasn't what the union had hoped to hear.

The sides haven't met since the league turned down three counterproposals from the union Thursday, two days after the NHL's offer that included a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenue. Because the players association hasn't shown an inclination to negotiate off of that NHL proposal, a stalemate now exists and could last for a while.

"The league is apparently unwilling to meet," NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr said in a statement. "That is unfortunate, as it is hard to make progress without talking."

The developments Tuesday night came hours after more discourse between the sides on the 38th day of the league's lockout.

While negotiators for the NHL and union kept conversations to a minimum, club officials had a brief window last week to discuss the league's latest proposal.

Those secretive discussions haven't produced any breakthrough, but they have inflamed an already-unsettled atmosphere. The union hierarchy wasn't informed about the window then and isn't happy about it.

But more important is the fact that NHL officials aren't having productive talks with union leaders. Now it seems that a full season, starting on Nov. 2, won't take place.

As of now, the league has called off all games through Nov. 1. Without a deal this week, those games are in danger of being called off for good.

Last week, the NHL's most recent contract offer was presented to the union and then publicly released in full. The union returned to the bargaining table last Thursday with its various counterproposals, which would also get to an even split of hockey revenue, but each was quickly rejected by the league.

There is a major divide between the sides over how to deal with existing player contracts. The union wants to ensure that those are all paid in full without affecting future player contracts.

No negotiations have taken place since last week, but the sides held two conference calls over the weekend to address questions the union had regarding the NHL offer.

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