NEW YORK – Negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and its players resumed Tuesday morning at the league offices, then took a slight break.
Limiting the personnel at the bargaining table in the hope of making progress, only Donald Fehr, the director of the NHL Players' Association, and assistant Steve Fehr met with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy Bill Daly. Traditionally, several players have joined in, but not this week as the end of the current CBA — Sept. 15 — draws near.
Not long after the meeting started, however, Donald Fehr appeared outside the building, telling reporters talks had paused just for a bit.
"I think the appropriate thing to do under the circumstances is go back (to our office). We've got constituents and so on," Fehr said. "And so we'll see you later on I'm sure."
With a wide gap between both sides and a lockout looming, the executives thought it was best to keep the conference room attendance light. Tuesday's sessions were billed as "economic," as opposed to several others that required player attendance because issues of health, ice conditions, and travel were discussed.
It is not clear whether or not the league issued another proposal to Fehr in the brief session, though it is likely one will be presented at some point this week.
"I'm not," Fehr said, "going to say anything about it."
Bettman has said the players will be locked out when the current agreement expires, though Fehr has countered that thought often during the summer.
"There's no law that says you have to lock out," he said earlier in the month. "If both parties are both really interested in trying to reach an agreement, and if we both really care what the people watching hockey games think, then we ought to be doing everything we can to avoid that eventuality. And that includes not short-circuiting the process."