Key negotiators from the NHL and NHL Players’ Association, including commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr, are back at the bargaining table for the third straight day Thursday.
With all regular-season games cancelled through Nov. 30, negotiations have reached a critical and delicate stage. Ten days will be needed from the time an agreement is struck until the season starts and there is still hope among the parties that a shortened schedule could begin by Dec. 1.
For that to happen, signs of progress need to emerge soon.
The sides have met for more than 20 hours over the last week, starting with an informal eight-hour session between deputy commissioner Bill Daly and NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr in Chicago on Saturday. Larger groups that included owners and players spent more than seven hours together on Tuesday and another five hours on Wednesday.
The conversation was expected to centre on the league’s “make whole” provision, which is designed to ensure all existing contracts are honoured in full. It is seen as the fundamental issue left to solve with the NHLPA having already agreed to see the players’ share in revenue reduced to 50 per cent during the next CBA.
Other important topics, including revenue sharing and contract rules, were discussed by the NHL and NHLPA earlier in the week and still need to be worked out before the 54-day lockout comes to an end.