Bettman ’pleased’ with latest round of talks
NEW YORK — Gary Bettman says he is ”pleased” with how the latest round of NHL labour talks are going.
But that’s about all the NHL commissioner is saying.
Bettman made a brief statement to the media Wednesday afternoon following a two-hour board of governors meeting in New York.
“We are pleased with the process that is ongoing and out of respect for that process I don’t have anything else to say and I’m not going to take any questions,” Bettman said.
His comments come as the two sides appear to be making some progress toward solving their labour dispute.
Representatives from the league and the NHL Players’ Association met for several hours Tuesday and are expected to resume talks later Wednesday.
Bettman and union leader Donald Fehr haven’t been in the room for the latest round of negotiations and the new dynamic seemed to spur progress.
The two sides have cleared their schedules for the rest of the week, asking for an adjournment to a hearing with the Quebec Labour Board in Montreal concerning the legality of locking out members of the Canadiens. That meeting, originally scheduled for Thursday, now will be pushed back beyond Friday.
That issue was less pressing with the league and union making a push to end the work stoppage.
The league owners gathered at the board meeting for the first time since authorizing the lockout in September. Bettman said the session was ”basically an update.“
“We feel good about the information we got,” said Columbus Blue Jackets president John Davidson.
According to sources, the owners discussed a possible 50-game season. There had been talk of a 60-game schedule in the event of a labour settlement but the feeling among owners is that would be too ambitious for the timeline.
The two sides are hoping to build on the progress made Tuesday, which NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr described as the best day yet in more than five months of talks.
Leafs minority owner Larry Tanenbaum is one of six owners who became involved in the talks this week.
“As long as we’re talking, we’re hopeful,” he said Wednesday.
Money has been the biggest issue the sides needed to bridge.
Even though both the league and union proposed a 50-50 split of revenues over the last month, they remain separated on payments to be made outside the system to help ease the transition from the previous deal, which saw players receive 57 per cent. The NHL has offered $211 million in deferred compensation while the union has asked for $393 million.
There are also a number of rules governing player contracts that must be worked out before a new CBA is signed.