(Reuters) - The National Hockey League (NHL) and players’ association returned to the bargaining table in New York on Monday but a 90-minute meeting failed to produce a breakthrough in their bitter, two-month-old labor dispute.
Discussions involving NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, four owners, NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr and 18 players offered no hope of brokering a new collective bargaining agreement that would salvage the season.
“No progress to report,” Daly told Reuters via email. “I would expect we will meet again sometime this week, although that has not been confirmed.”
Fehr, representing players who have been locked out by the owners since September 15, told reporters the union had been keen to discuss player contracting issues with the league but that the NHL had been “unwilling” to do so during Monday’s meeting.
Daly said the league wanted the union to submit a detailed economic proposal, covering all issues, before the subject of player contracting could be addressed.
“I understand there is a lot of frustration in the process,” said Daly. “I‘m frustrated in terms of being where we are and not playing hockey.”
Monday’s round of negotiations at the league’s offices in New York was the first between the two groups in eight days and came amidst mounting speculation that the league could cancel more games later this week if no further progress was made.
The NHL has already called off all games through November 30, as well as its showcase Winter Classic on New Year’s Day, costing the league millions of dollars in revenue.
The work stoppage is the fourth in 20 years for the NHL, the last wiping out the 2004-5 season.
League owners would like to avoid long-term contracts, limiting them to five years, delay free agency until a player turns 28 or plays eight years, have two-year entry deals and limit salary arbitration until after five years of play.
They also want to reduce the players’ share of $3.3 billion in annual revenue to 50 percent from the current 57 percent.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Peter Rutherford