Lockout talks make slow progress
Sun, 30 Sep 2012 4:28p.m.
By Logan Swinkels
This week, along with cancelling all pre-season games, National Hockey League (NHL) Commissioner Gary Bettman has threatened to cancel the Winter Classic and the accompanying HBO series ‘24/7’ that would follow the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs leading into the New Year’s Day outdoor showcase.
If a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) can’t be reached by mid-November at the latest, the Winter Classic could be gone. Ideally, not a move that Bettman would want to make.
The Classic symbolises the growth ice hockey has enjoyed since the 2004 lockout that cancelled the entire 2004-05 season - but this current lockout makes it the third work stoppage for the League under Bettman’s tenure.
However, this threat could possibly spur a much needed incentive to speed up talks between the NHL and the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) to resolve key economic issues and end the lockout.
This weekend marks the first significant meeting between the NHL and NHLPA since September 12. However, talks have started off slowly.
Instead of addressing how the hockey related revenue valued at $3.3 billion (USD) should be divided, discussion over other issues such as implementing better drug testing practices were at the forefront when this weekend’s talks began.
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly shares the frustration of hockey fans at the lack of considerable progress made.
“I wish we had spent the day on what we consider the more meaningful issues,” Daly told reporters.
But before a middle ground can be found, Daly believes that the players need to step up with a fairer proposal.
“We’ve made at least two significant moves, significant dollars in their direction, and they haven’t moved a single dollar in our direction since August 4,” he says.
Today, NHL Commissioner Bettman and NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr held a private meeting to try bridge this conflicting gap regarding revenue between the League and the players.
Away from the lockout, there’s also been drama involving NHL players heading to European leagues.
Nail Yakupov, this year’s number one draft pick and top prospect for the Edmonton Oilers, hit a snag when attempting to play in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League (KHL).
Hockey Canada hadn’t approved his International Transfer Card as they were waiting for Yakupov’s junior hockey club - the Sarnia Sting for a release.
He illegally played two games for KHL club HC Neftekhimik during this time but has since been approved for play by Hockey Canada.
New York Rangers winger Rick Nash, who last week signed with Swiss club Davos, suffered a minor shoulder injury in play on Friday and is listed as day-to-day.
Nash is so far one of the few American players who have signed with a European club to keep playing hockey during the lockout.
If it continues past October 11 when the regular season is scheduled to open, the American Hockey League could see a boost of NHL players joining their ranks.
The AHL is the second-tier professional league used for developing players and getting junior prospects ready for the hard-hitting, faster pace of the NHL.
The NHL maintains their confidence in resolving the lockout without affecting the regular season and is yet to confirm a deadline from when they would start cancelling games.
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