Originally created 05/11/05

NHL, union delay trip to continue bargaining

NEW YORK - NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and players' association executive director Bob Goodenow will hold labor negotiations today and Thursday instead of going to Austria for the world hockey championships.

The change in plans occurred Tuesday after a 3-hour bargaining session in New York, the eighth official meeting between the sides since Bettman canceled the entire hockey season on Feb. 16 because of the lockout.

"No progress to report," NHL chief legal officer Bill Daly said.

After eight hours of meetings last week, and contentious comments made by both sides through the media about the other, the negotiating atmosphere seemed to be poor. But the principle negotiators decided to at least delay - and maybe cancel - their European trips and remain in New York for further discussions.

"The parties met today in New York City, and at the conclusion of the meeting they agreed to set aside time for additional meetings (today) and Thursday," union spokesman Jonathan Weatherdon said in a statement. "The NHLPA will not comment on the status of the negotiations until after this series of meetings concludes later this week."

Originally, the sides planned to talk about a new collective bargaining agreement Monday and Tuesday in New York, but that was cut to just Tuesday after two days of discussions last week. They had already scheduled meetings for next Wednesday and Thursday, likely in Toronto.

Bettman, Daly, Goodenow and NHLPA senior director Ted Saskin were to arrive in Austria today.

The NHL made a new offer to the players last Thursday in Toronto, but no progress was reported by either side after talks ended Friday.

The latest proposal was spawned by a union offer on April 4 that contained a hybrid concept that addressed the relationship between player salaries and league revenues. It contained an upper cap of $50 million and a floor of $30 million.

As before, the sides have not come close to an agreement on the values of the caps or how wide a range there should be between the minimums and maximums.

When the sides met on April 19, the discussions ended with a heated exchange between Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs and players' association leadership. The tough talk continued this week when Daly and Saskin exchanged barbs.

Daly reportedly told a Web site for a Canadian sports television network that the union's analysis of the league's latest proposal was "grossly slanted" and "sheer fiction."

Rogers Sportsnet also reported that Daly accused Goodenow of not wanting to reach a settlement.

Saskin responded in a statement that part of the league's proposal was taken off the table because "it became clear how ill-conceived it was."


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