NHL Lockout, Day 95: Daly Not Concerned By Players' Vote To Disclaim Interest
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly yesterday "dismissed the players' current vote to authorize their union’s withdrawal from negotiations as a 'card' to 'play' in the talks," according to Mark Everson of the N.Y. POST. Daly in an e-mail wrote, "I certainly don’t think it would be helpful in terms of getting a deal done, and it’s not going to expedite the process." Daly added that the vote, which "wouldn't force a union withdrawal from the talks, only authorize such a move, doesn’t provide the union with fresh leverage." Daly said the league has had “no recent contact" with the union. The last talks "were held by conference call Friday, after the sides worked through a mediator last Wednesday and Thursday." NHLPA Special Counsel Steve Fehr reportedly "called Daly yesterday, but no business resulted" (N.Y. POST, 12/19). CAA Hockey co-Head Pat Brisson said there should be "one more solid meeting" with both NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr in the meetings and "perhaps the same owners and players who were there a couple weeks ago." Brisson: "That's when we got closer to the deal." However, sources said that the league "isn't in favor of reconvening that negotiating group." With no plans to meet between the NHL and NHLPA it is "likely more games will be canceled by the end of the week" (ESPN.com, 12/18).
SURVEY SAYS: In Vancouver, Brad Zeimer cites a poll that suggests the "majority of Canadians don't care whether the two sides in the National Hockey League labour dispute reach an agreement." The poll, conducted Dec. 11-16 by NRG Research Group and Peak Communications, surveyed 801 people in six Canadian regions. Respondents were asked, "Do you think the NHL lockout will be settled in the next couple of weeks?; in the new year in time for a shortened season to be played?; not until it's too late for games to be played this season?; or don't you care?" Fifty-eight percent of respondents "indicated they did not care." Only 5% "thought a deal could be done in the next couple of weeks and the season would start up in 2012," while 8% "thought a deal could be done in the new year in time for a shortened season to be played." Twenty-five percent "believe it is too late for any kind of season to be salvaged" (VANCOUVER SUN, 12/19). NRG CEO & Chair Brian Owen said that people in British Columbia "are at the high-end of the lockout-blockout scale, with 61 per cent saying they 'don't care.'" In Vancouver, Sam Cooper notes the results "might worry the NHL, because an earlier NRG Research Group survey showed a higher degree of public interest in resolving the lockout." Only 36% in September said it "wasn’t important for the lockout to be resolved." Owen said, "Canadians are clearly becoming disillusioned with the dispute process" (Vancouver PROVINCE, 12/19). The GLOBE & MAIL's Gordon & Ebner write the "bond between the NHL and Canadian hockey fans may be stretching past the breaking point" (GLOBE & MAIL, 12/19).
FRUSTRATION MOUNTING: In Pittsburgh, Josh Yohe reported Penguins C Sidney Crosby "continues to marvel that the sides have had so little contact." He said, "I shake my head and wonder why we‘re even at this point." Yohe noted the NHL and NHLPA have "gone two weeks without negotiating." A meeting "with mediators -- the respective sides were never in the same room -- is the only thing resembling progress in the past couple of weeks, and even that was relatively fruitless." Crosby has "remained mum on the idea of disbanding the union," but the "silence between the league and union is something Crosby isn‘t so quiet about." He said, "I‘m trying not to get too frustrated by it. But I think it‘s nonsense that we aren't talking every day" (TRIBLIVE.com, 12/18). Jets D Ron Hainsey yesterday said, "We’ve said it a number of times, but it’s worth repeating: It’s obviously very difficult to make a deal if you’re not meeting or negotiating. I’ve yet to see a way we can do it without sitting down across a table from each other." He added, "On both sides you get a feeling that you’re making momentum and getting closer, and then you take a step backward. Then things quiet down for a couple of days, and someone has to pick up the phone and re-engage and figure out a forum." Hainsey continued, "We would prefer that we were done already. There is still time to get something done and salvage a reasonable number of games for a season. We’re not up against a hard deadline yet, but we are getting short on time" (AP, 12/18).
WAITING GAME: ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun wrote the league is "putting the onus on the NHLPA to make the next move." Since the "experiment" with Penguins co-Owner Ron Burkle and company "fell through in the first week of December, the league has played hardball." The NHL believes that if the compromises Burkle and his group "were offering weren’t enough to get a deal done," it means Donald Fehr is "waiting for mid-January -- i.e., the 11th hour -- to finally make his move." LeBrun: "Hence why the league has been unwilling to move much off its last offer." It is expected more games "get canceled by the end of this week, which could be the last batch of games wiped out before it’s time to either salvage or cancel the season" (ESPN.com, 12/18). Canada Prime Minister Stephen Harper said of the lockout, "I think this poses a grave danger for the National Hockey League. In the end, the NHL and its players are a company, a business. And if you withold the product twice in a decade from your customers, I think that you're putting the entire situation in danger." Harper said that it is "sad to see relations between owners and players 'so broken' that they put the league at risk" (GLOBE & MAIL, 12/19).