NHL cancels board of governors meeting

It’s official. There’s nothing to talk about in the NHL labour dispute.
Citing a lack of developments in the lockout, the NHL called off a planned board of governors meeting in New York next Friday.
“It’s obvious that the reason it’s been cancelled is that there’s just nothing for us to talk about,” Devils CEO and GM Lou Lamoriello, who sits on the board of governors, said yesterday from New Jersey.
“There’s just no reason to have a meeting.”
Bill Daly, the NHL’s executive vice-president and chief legal officer, sent out a memo yesterday to all 30 clubs announcing the cancellation of the meeting, citing a lack of progress in collective bargaining.
“When we originally scheduled it, it was shortly after the negotiating meetings we had in December, and I certainly think there was a hope—if not an expectation—that more progress would have been made in negotiations between the date we scheduled it and now, that the union would have come forward with another proposal or at least have some communication in an attempt to move the process forward,” Daly said from New York.
“As it’s turned out, there’s really nothing to update the board on that they’re not fully aware of already.”
The NHL Players’ Association and the league haven’t talked since Dec. 14. And Daly says it’s not up to the league to kick-start the process.
“We don’t have any intention currently of making a proposal,” Daly said. “We continue to believe that we made a bona fide, good faith, legitimate proposal on Dec. 14, and that having rejected that proposal, which was their right to do, that the union bears some responsibility to bring us back something that they think works.”
Not true, says NHLPA senior director Ted Saskin.
“I don’t know of anyone who believes that the NHL has made one bona fide proposal aimed at a settlement that could work for both sides,” Saskin said last night.
“While the NHL acknowledged the significance of our Dec. 9 proposal, they proceeded to intentionally mischaracterize its impact and gave a response which they knew would provide no basis for further discussions.”
If the original announcement of the Jan. 14 board of governors meeting was, in fact, some form of pressure tactic from the league, it didn’t work. The NHLPA did not pick up the phone nor begin work on a new offer.
“Collective bargaining negotiations should involve reasonable attempts by both parties to find middle ground,” said Saskin. “To date, the NHL has not given us any signal that they’re prepared to negotiate a compromise that can work for both sides.
“If this process is to move forward, it is now up to the NHL to make a proposal that would be of interest to the players.”
The board of governors last met Sept. 14 in New York when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced the lockout.
There had been some thought Bettman could emerge from next Friday’s meeting with a final deadline for cancelling the season—or even an announcement that the season was called off.
While it’s clear the season won’t be cancelled next Friday, the day is approaching when Bettman will have to make that announcement.
“We haven’t given it a lot of thought, but my guess is that once it’s clear to everyone that we can’t play games this season, I would imagine an announcement will be made,” Daly said.

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