The meetings in New York City on Tuesday marked the first official bargaining session since that brief encounter in Toronto on October 18. You remember that one? The day Gary Bettman and the owners were accused of walking out after 10 minutes.
But following the recent marathon meeting last Saturday between Steve Fehr and Bill Daly, one that spilled into Sunday, there exists hope of both sides that somehow and some way a deal can get done to salvage the season.
Tuesday’s session started at 3 p.m. ET in midtown Manhattan. It involved all the key people: Donald and Steve Fehr, Gary Bettman and Bill Daly, the staff advisors of both sides, four owners and 13 players. Separate rooms will house the staffs and the owners, and the Big Four will have a room to sit in and talk. It is a day of negotiating, caucusing, ruminating and examination.
This is the most cautious I have ever seen Don Fehr. No rhetoric,no malice,no history lesson.Just sayin’. #tickticktick
In his pre-meeting media availability Don Fehr appeared rather reserved. Gone was the rhetoric. Gone were the jabs at the commissioner and the owners. He talked up to the line, but not beyond. Fehr’s favourite line was, “I don’t really want to talk about that.”
While we may not know the exact location of the meeting, we know the issues haven’t changed. How to ensure the players under contract get all of the money from the owners’ side of the hockey-related revenue (HRR) is key for the union. Contract lengths, arbitration, free agency, entry level contracts and revenue sharing are still major issues to be resolved.
How this session goes (and how long this session goes) might just indicate if the NHL can play games by December 1.