NEW YORK — The NHL has issued another proposal to the players’ association as a lockout looms next month.
NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr confirmed that the league offered a new proposal — its second this summer — during negotiations Tuesday at the NHL offices. The two sides will meet again on Wednesday to discuss it, after Fehr and the players break it down on their own.
Speaking outside of the headquarters, Fehr said it was “a proposal that we intend to respond to.”
The current collective bargaining agreement runs out on Sept. 15 and the NHL has said it will lock the players out if a new deal isn’t reached.
Limiting the personnel at the bargaining table in the hope of making progress, only Fehr and his top assistant, Steve Fehr, met with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy Bill Daly on Tuesday. Traditionally, several players have joined in, but not this week as the end of the current CBA draws near.
After holding talks in Toronto last week, the return to New York was a strange one for both sides. Negotiations resumed Tuesday morning, as planned, but then took a slight break while Fehr left the building. Upon exiting, he told 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 at the time. “And so we’ll see you later on I’m sure.”
He eventually returned to confirm the proposal.
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.
Bettman has remained firm on his stance that if a new agreement isn’t cut, then a lockout will occur, though Fehr has countered that thought often during this summer of angst.
“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.”