After three consecutive days of meeting which has totaled more than 20 hours, the players and owners have recessed with plans to meet again Friday.
It was confirmed after Thursday’s meeting that the NHLPA had presented offers to the NHL which focused on revenue sharing and contract terms. The union wants current contracts honoured and for their revenue shares to only drop to 50 percent in the third year of the deal. The league tabled their counter offer Thursday in hopes of a positive reaction from the union Friday.
The “secret location” has been reported as a midtown Manhattan law firm office building.
Both Donald Fehr and Gary Bettman declined to discuss the “substance” of the meetings, though they did not “come out swinging” as has been the case in past post-meeting media briefs.
Though the progress has yet to be seen with both sides still demanding the maximum, the frustration that has plagued prior negotiations has shifted to the winds of cooperation. Instead of lashing out on the opposing side’s ideals to the media, both have chosen to calmly leave the details in the negotiation room.
Still, the make-or-break issue remains to be the contract terms. The players aren’t appearing to waiver on their stance that they should have their current contracts honoured. They have already agreed to eventually lower their revenue shares to 50 percent.
In the last slew of offers, it was by the seventh year, now it’s reported as being the third year. This, much like the owners slowly working revenue compromises from 43 to 50, can be seen as negotiation progress. It now becomes a matter of compromise. Whereas the contract disputes have not seen much in the way of commonality between the owners and players.
The league has already cancelled regular season games through November 30th, so the pace should pick up in the coming weeks. It appears as though both sides are still in the “feeling-out process,” as described by Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson Tuesday. However, both parties have shown legitimate interest in the other’s ideals as the negotiations have gone on for hours into the night throughout the week.
Although progress has yet to be seen, the desperation is beginning to show on both sides. Not on the negotiation tables, but in the extensive hours they’ve been meeting for.
Even if this isn’t exactly a step forward in terms of negotiation progress at this point, it isn’t a step backward. And in comparison to previous labour talks, it is indeed a step forward.