The NHL’s deadline to save a full season is today. There is no reason to expect a miracle.
“It’s clear we aren’t going to have a deal any time soon,” NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told The Buffalo News via email Wednesday.
Gary Bettman concurred.
“Unfortunately, it looks like an 82-game season is not going to be a reality,” the commissioner said in Brooklyn, where he joined New York Islanders owner Charles Wang in announcing the team is moving from Nassau County to Brooklyn’s new Barclays Center in 2015-16 as part of a 25-year lease. “We made our best offer to save an 82-game season, and it was not something that the players’ association demonstrated any interest in.
“I think things, in some respects, may get more difficult.”
Considering the league and NHLPA haven’t come anywhere close to a collective bargaining agreement since the lockout began Sept. 16, enhanced difficulties are a scary proposition.
“As of right now, it doesn’t look too good,” Buffalo Sabres captain Jason Pominville said after skating in Amherst. “Both sides are holding their ground and don’t want to budge.”
Last week, the league proposed to split revenue 50-50 with the players on the condition an 82-game season started Nov. 2. The CBA needed to be completed by today in order to conduct a seven-day training camp.
“Just disappointed in where we find ourselves,” Daly told The News. “I thought 50-50 deal and mechanism to pay players back for reduced value of their contracts in early years of CBA would garner some traction. I guess players want more. Not sure where this goes from here.”
The NHLPA told the league Tuesday night it was willing to meet Wednesday “or any other date, without preconditions, to try to reach an agreement.” The NHL declined because the union didn’t want to negotiate off the league’s proposal and had no new offers to make.
“It’s unfortunate because it shows you no matter what we have to say we aren’t making any headway,” Sabres defenseman Jordan Leopold said.
The union, which made three hastily rejected proposals last Thursday, has conceded it needs to reach a 50-50 revenue split in order to generate a deal. The players had a 57-43 advantage in the old CBA, and their recent offers start at about 56-44 before gradually reaching 50 percent over the life of the deal.
“Don has been working with these guys long enough and can find that wiggle room,” Leopold said. “It’s a matter of the other side coming to the table as well. Both of us have to find a way to bridge that gap. The only way you can do that is by sitting down at the table and working things out. We aren’t at the table. The NHL wants proposals, but it’s hard to find that common ground without talking.”
All games through Nov. 1 have been canceled, and the NHL is expected to ax another significant chunk today or Friday.
The league’s 82-game proposal would have retained the All-Star Game, and Leopold and Pominville figured eliminating the exhibition could extend the window of a full season up to a week past today’s deadline. With a significant gap and no negotiations scheduled, even the extra week they hoped for wouldn’t do any good.
“It looks like it doesn’t matter now,” Daly wrote.
Said Pominville: “We feel comfortable with the proposal we made, and we are going to stand behind it. It’s up to them to make a move.”