TORONTO – The NHL and NHL Players’ Association are heading back to the bargaining table and they’re vowing to meet in private.
Deputy commissioner Bill Daly is scheduled to meet with Steve Fehr, the NHLPA’s special counsel, at an undisclosed location on Saturday, according to a source.
It will be the first time the sides have sat down together since Oct. 18.
The talks are set to restart in a private setting so that “they can focus on bargaining,” according to the source. Daly and Fehr have been speaking informally by phone throughout the week.
Any progress is likely to come from the “make-whole provision” in the league’s latest offer, which would see players receive deferred payments that will ensure all current contracts are honoured in full. The union has been told the NHL is willing to make changes that will see those payments not counted against the players’ share in future revenues, according to a source, but the NHLPA has yet to receive specific details regarding the potential new offer.
Daly didn’t respond to a message from The Canadian Press seeking details of the proposed changes.
The most recent offers from the two sides each saw revenues reduced to 50-50 over the course of the agreement from the current 57-43 split in favour of the players. However, the union has made it clear it wants that drop phased in so current contracts are kept intact while the NHL has asked for it to start immediately.
The NHL also proposed numerous changes to contract rules, but the NHLPA has so far shown no interest in accepting any of those.
The labour dispute has already seen the league cancel 326 regular-season games through Nov. 30. On Friday, it also called off the Jan. 1 Winter Classic outdoor game at Michigan Stadium, saying it had run out of time to pull the event together.