Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said the National Hockey League season probably won’t start as scheduled on Oct. 11 because no new labor agreement is imminent.
The NHL Players’ Association today finished a second round of internal talks at a New York hotel, two days before the current collective bargaining agreement between the players and owners is due to expire. Flanked by at least two dozen players, including Crosby and Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, union Executive Director Donald Fehr told reporters there have been no developments since yesterday, when new proposals were rejected by both sides.
Crosby said that while the players have been willing to agree to concessions, they feel as though owners had their minds set on a lockout since talks began this offseason.
“Right now I don’t think it’s looking like we’re going to start on time,” he said.
The NHL Board of Governors is also meeting today in New York and is scheduled to address the media later this afternoon.
Commissioner Gary Bettman said yesterday that the union’s most recent proposal offered little change from its prior position. He reiterated that league owners would not operate the 2012-13 season under the current agreement.
“The proposal was really not much different -- other than a couple of things around the edges -- than the last proposal that they had made that we had indicated was clearly not acceptable,” Bettman told reporters.
Owners offered players 47 percent of hockey-related revenue, one percentage point more than previously. They currently get 57 percent. Under the union’s proposal, the players’ share would decrease to 52 percent over four years as revenue increased.
Both Bettman and Fehr said yesterday they would be open to meeting again before midnight on Sept. 15, when the current collective bargaining agreement expires. Fehr said today that plans had not yet been made to continue negotiations.
There’s no legal requirement for a lockout in the absence of a new agreement, because the sides can continue to operate under the old accord while negotiations proceed. Bettman said that owners won’t operate the 2012-13 season without a new deal; Fehr said players are willing to compete while negotiations continue.
-- Editors: Michael Sillup, Jay Beberman