Negotiations appeared to have soured on Friday as National Hockey League (NHL) owners and locked out players completed a fourth consecutive day of talks to resolve their bitter labor dispute.
“We thought we were much closer together on a structure of a deal than suggestions were,” NHL Players Association (NHLPA) executive director Donald Fehr told reporters in New York. “They [the NHL] came back to us and said: ‘No, we’re very, very far apart on a structure of the deal.’”
The Minnesota Star-Tribune, citing sources, said the NHL believed the league had given the players almost all they had asked for, but Fehr was not passing on that information based on a memo sent to players in which the executive director said there was a “considerable gap” in the positions of the two sides.
Fehr disputed both points.
“If you write a memo, and it’s a quick one, you necessarily have to summarize,” he said, adding “that doesn’t have anything to do with all the calls that are made by the player reps.”
The two sides are trying to work out how to split US$3.3 billion in annual revenue.
A major stumbling block appears to be a “make whole” concept to honor existing player contracts.
“We are still being told that more salaries must be conceded, and that very valuable player contracting rights must be surrendered,” Fehr said in the memo which was written on Thursday.