No new CBA will mean lockout
NEW YORK -- Commissioner Gary Bettman made the NHL's intent very clear Thursday, saying the league plans
to lock the players out if a new collective bargaining agreement cannot be reached by Sept. 15, the date
the current CBA is set to expire.
Bettman said this stance was reiterated to the NHL Players' Association during the day's bargaining session.
"I reconfirmed something that the union has been told multiple times over the last nine to 12 months, namely
that the time is getting short and the owners are not prepared to operate under this collective bargaining
agreement for another season, so we need to get to making a deal and doing it soon," Bettman said outside of
the league's offices in midtown Manhattan. "And we believe there's ample time for the parties to get together
and make a deal, and that's what we're going to be working toward."
The two sides, which have been engaged in labor talks for six weeks, have five weeks to broker a new deal
and a significant divide on a number of issues.
"Our efforts are going to be devoted to making a deal, but as I said the owners are not going to operate under
the economics of this collective bargaining agreement," Bettman said.
NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr has previously addressed the possibility of playing even while a deal is in
negotiation, although that does not appear to be an option the league is willing to entertain.
"Under the law, if an agreement expires, that may give someone the legal ability to strike, or in this case to
impose a lockout," Fehr said. "There's no requirement that they do so and if nobody does anything, you can continue
to work under the old conditions."
League, players far apart
TORONTO -- The wide gap that existed in labor talks between the NHL and NHL Players' Association
was hardly bridged on Wednesday, a day after the union presented its counterproposal and with the
threat of a lockout now only a month away.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the two sides are "still apart, far apart," and "not on the same
page," in making his first public comments since having a chance to read through the NHLPA's offer.
Adding that he was "a little disappointed" that the union has yet to present its full proposal, Bettman
said the league isn't even at the point of making a counteroffer.
"I think there are still a number of issues where we're looking at the world differently," Bettman said,
after the two sides met for about an hour at the NHLPA headquarters in Toronto. "So there's still a wide
gap between us, and not much time to go."
NHLPA executive director Don Fehr described the gap between the two sides as "a pretty substantial
monetary gulf." But he placed the blame on the NHL for creating the gap in the first place with the cutbacks
in salary and limitations placed on free agency the league made in its initial offer last month.
The current collective bargaining agreement expires on Sept. 15, and the NHL has already warned that
it will lock out its players if a new deal is not reached by then. The NHL regular season is set to open Oct. 11.
Bettman's response to the NHLPA's proposal and the large gap that remains between the two sides is
regarded as a significant setback. That considerably raises fears that the NHL could be headed for its fourth
labor dispute in 20 years. That's a timeframe that includes the 2004-05 season which was wiped out entirely
by a lockout. It also dates to April 1, 1992, when a 10-day players' strike led to 30 games being postponed
The dispute centers on the players’ percentage of hockey-related revenue.
The players currently receive 57 percent of HRR.
In the NHL’s latest proposal, the players would receive 46 percent. Under that
proposal, existing salaries would not be rolled back. However, players would
pay more in escrow.
NEW YORK -- NHL commissioner Gary Bettman received a unanimous vote from owners Thursday
in support of a league-imposed lockout should no deal be reached by midnight ET Saturday.
Bettman met with the board of governors here, and although he already had the authority to
implement a work stoppage, his constituency stood behind the league's position of a lockout.
The NHL and NHL Players' Association traded proposals Wednesday but remain far apart on core
There are no further meetings scheduled in advance of Saturday, when the current collective
bargaining agreement expires. But Bettman said the league is always receptive to continued
dialogue with the union and is awaiting a response to its latest proposal.
Should the league impose a lockout, it would be the third work stoppage during Bettman's tenure
as commissioner. The league forfeited an entire season in 2004-05 during the last lockout.
"Nobody wants to make a deal and play hockey more than I do," Bettman said. "This is very hard,
and I feel terrible about it."
NHL scraps 82 regular-season games
The National Hockey League canceled two weeks' worth of regular-season games Thursday as the lockout
dragged on into its 18th day with no new labor talks scheduled.
The announcement was made in a two-paragraph statement from the NHL. It isn't clear if those games
will be made up, allowing for a complete 82-game regular season, if a deal can be struck soon with the
locked out players.
Unable to work out how to split up $3 billion in hockey-related revenues with the players' association, the
NHL wiped out 82 games through Oct. 24 -- beginning with four Oct. 11, which would have been the league's
Deputy commissioner Bill Daly wouldn't go so far as to say that these 82 games could or would be rescheduled
if a new agreement was reached in a timely fashion.
"Certainly fair to say that if we reach a deal, we will be looking to reconfigure (the) schedule in a way that
would maximize (the) season consistent with health and safety concerns for the Players," Daly told ESPN.com
via email Thursday afternoon.
The 82 canceled games will cost NHL players approximately $120 million in total salary, according to TSN.
NHL unhappy with union response
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman received three counterproposals from the players' association on Thursday
and left the negotiating table "thoroughly disappointed."
No new talks have been scheduled, and the possibility of a full hockey regular season is quickly shrinking.
"Today is not a good day," NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr said.
Thursday's meetings, according to Bettman, were a "step backward," while Fehr insists the NHL was only
willing to work off its offer from Tuesday, rejecting the players' three counteroffers.
The union offered multiple options in response to the NHL's offer Tuesday that called for an 82-game season
and a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenues between owners and players.
Said Blues captain David Backes in a text to ESPN.com: "We feel our newest proposal took a great step toward
getting a deal done. It's too bad the owners don't feel that way and I fear that we may miss an extended
amount of time now."
Bettman said that proposal was the "best that we could do" and added that the two sides are still far apart.
"None of the three variations of player share that they gave us even began to approach 50-50, either at all or
for some long period of time," Bettman said.
"It's clear we're not speaking the same language."
Sources: New York Islanders moving to Brooklyn
The New York Islanders have agreed to move to Brooklyn's Barclays Center from Long Island as early as 2015,
sharing the arena with the Nets, league sources tell ESPN.
The team has scheduled a "major announcement" for 1 p.m. ET Wednesday. Commissioner Gary Bettman,
Islanders owner Charles Wang, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Brooklyn borough president Marty Markowitz, Islanders
general manager Garth Snow, and Barclays Center and Brooklyn Nets chief executive Brett Yormark will be in
The Islanders' lease at Nassau Coliseum expires in 2015, and the team has been trying to secure a new arena
near the site for some time. Nassau County voters rejected a $400 million proposal for a new arena, funded
by bonds, in August 2001.
Wang has threatened to move the team from the site when the team's lease expires after the 2015 season.
Wang, the founder of a computer software company, presented a plan in 2003 for a privately funded multibillion-
dollar development of housing, retail and a new arena on the property, but the proposal foundered amid community
The move to Brooklyn isn't without complications. Under current plans, Barclays Center would hold only 14,500
for hockey, and sources familiar with the facility were skeptical regarding the arena's long-term viability as the
home of an NHL franchise. At 15,004, Winnipeg's MTS Centre currently has the NHL's smallest capacity.
As recently as April, Bettman said Brooklyn might not be a viable destination for the Islanders because it's hard to
reach for the team's fan base in Long Island and Queens. However, the team's announcement of a news conference
at the Barclays Center trumpeted the fact that it is located "atop one of the largest transportation hubs in New York
City ... accessible by 11 subway lines, the Long Island Rail Road, and 11 bus lines."
The outdated Coliseum -- it was built in 1971 and opening in 1972 -- is no longer suitable for the NHL once the lease
expires. The arena holds 16,234, but the Islanders' average attendance last season was 13,191.