By Helene Elliott, Tribune Newspapers
9:55 PM EST, November 23, 2012
Leaders of the NHL and the players association traded barbs instead of labor proposals Friday as the league extended its cancellation of regular-season games through Dec. 14 for a total of 422, or 34.3 percent of the schedule.
It also canceled the All-Star Game, scheduled for Jan. 27 in Columbus, Ohio.
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said in an interview on a Toronto radio station that he has doubted the NHLPA's willingness to make a deal.
"I would hope the players want to play and want to have a season, but I'm not so sure at the end of the day that unless it's on certain terms that union leadership necessarily shares that goal," he said.
Daly also took an ominous view of a possible vote by players to decertify their union, as NFL and NBA players did in recent labor disputes.
"It's a time-consuming process that would likely lead to the end of the season," he said.
Steve Fehr, the NHLPA's special counsel, declined to say whether the decertification process had begun but said all options were being considered. He said the union wanted to complete a deal but questioned the NHL's intentions.
"We have our doubts, how's that?" he said in a separate interview on the same station.
Fehr said the league had moved toward the players.
"But on the things that matter -- dollars, free-agency rights, salary-arbitration rights, some of the other player contracting rights they're trying to take a meat ax to -- there was not movement," he said. "If it was Thanksgiving dinner, they gave us a relish tray but no turkey."
The sides have agreed to evenly split hockey-related revenues but differ over transitional payments to players who will lose a chunk of their salaries to escrow as they move from a 57 percent share of hockey-related revenues under the previous collective bargaining agreement to 50 percent.
NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr called the new cancellations disappointing because the economic gap has shrunk to $182 million in transitional payments.