NHL players have yet to decide whether to terminate the current collective bargaining agreement with less than two weeks before the deadline to do so.
Roughly 50 players met Wednesday night in Chicago to get an update on talks with the league, which executive director Don Fehr called “a long discussion, good discussion” about the situation facing the NHLPA. The executive board and the other players attending the meeting did not make any decisions about the CBA, and NHLPA representatives will be back in talks with the league in the coming days.
Players have until Sept. 15 to decide whether to reopen the CBA and set the clock ticking toward a potential work stoppage a year from now. Even after owners decided last week not to trigger their opt-out clause, there’s still no concrete indication which way players are leaning.
“We’ve got some time to go,” Fehr said Wednesday. “Nothing happens on Sept. 16 if there’s a reopening that’s made or something like that. And you’ve got to hope that the discussions will proceed on the basis that both sides want a deal and however difficult it is, you’re going to try and find a way to make one.”
Fehr described discussions with the league as cordial and pleasant.
“It doesn’t mean there haven’t been disagreements and significant disagreements, but it’s so far at least free from rancour,” Fehr said. “That’s a big improvement.”
The last time owners and players engaged in CBA talks, the start of the 2012-13 season was postponed and shortened from 82 to 48 games before a new deal was reached.
This time around, players appear to have bigger concerns with the current agreement than owners, notably escrow payments and other financial issues. The continued dialogue between the sides is one significant positive along with the 12 months of leeway.
“There will be a series of talks and we’ll see where that takes us,” Fehr said. “I can’t predict what the results will be. I supposed what I could say is if I thought it was a complete waste of time, I’d find something else to do.”