WOODBRIDGE, N.J. — After 6.5 hours of negotiation that was supposed to be kept dark from the media, the excitement of uncovering the secret meeting location greatly outweighed the depth of any progress to come out of the actual talks.
“Really there is nothing new to report” said NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly, who didn’t field any questions when discussing the results at the end of the session.
The NHLPA deliberated as a group shortly after both parties broke off. Players weren’t overly thrilled when they left, as they realized quickly that the NHL wouldn’t change their position from their last offer that was tendered one week prior.
“I don’t know what to do, there isn’t much you can say when it is just take it or leave it. We’ll just have to get back to the drawing board” said Blackhawks forward Jamal Mayers. “To think we are that close but yet so far is extremely frustrating.”
The NHLPA is now in consultation with the same federal mediators that were in today’s meetings. Based on their findings, it appears as though they will be key in determining whether or not the process can move forward right away. Based on the NHL holding firm in its place, it didn’t seem like mediation really did a whole heck of a lot.
“We’re going to stay in contact with the mediator before we decide what the next step is” said union leader Donald Fehr.
With respect to the league’s take it or leave stance, Fehr wouldn’t discuss details.
“All I’m going to say is there wasn’t any change in (the NHL’s) position.”
One hand left to play for the players could be presenting a whole new counter-proposal to the NHL’s last offer. But that also poses an issue within the union.
“It’s tough to always give proposals against your old proposals” said free agent forward Mathieu Darche, one of 13 players on hand for the meeting.
Lost in the lack of progress, was the fun in finding the parties involved. You will remember, this was supposed to be away from the media. It didn’t take long to figure out that the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service office was located in Woodbridge, New Jersey. This was the same location where both sides met when they went through mediation the first time around.
The parties involved were spotted quickly. And while Daly was worried about the “media circus” that would surround the talks had it been openly announced, they most certainly had no impact on today’s proceedings.