They came, they sat, they talked, they got up and they all left. That pretty well sums up the first bargaining session since May, as the NHL and the NHLPA got together in New York on Wednesday to try and make a little progress in their contract talks.
About the only thing they agreed on was that they’ll do it all over again on August 5th, neither side expressed much optimism that a settlement was close at hand. After four hours of discussion the players association said that they had reviewed the NHL’s six new proposals for contract movement and since all six contained the words salary cap, discussions were a non starter.
The two sides parted with management preparing a more detailed overview of their positions for the union to study prior to the August 5th meeting. However, the union quickly downplayed any idea that they would entertain any ideas involving holding down player salaries. The league on their part insists that “cost certainty” is the only vehicle that will ensure the leagues survival, thus a lock out at this point seems to be completely unavoidable.
As if to reinforce their concerns on league costs, the NHL teams today began issuing their lay off notices to staff members around the league. Pink slips are in the preparation stages, as each NHL team decides on a time frame of lay off. They will have to decide which employee is essential to the team and who will be cast aside should there be no hockey come September 15th. The league offices in New York, Toronto, Montreal and New Jersey expect that over 50% of their employees will be told to stay home after September 20th should there be no agreement in place.
The spike of potential unemployment figures may be the one thing that keeps the two sides bargaining through August. Not only will players and owners will feel the pinch, but everyone from office staff to scouts, ticket sellers to parking attendants and program sellers to concession workers, will have to find something else to do on game night. HockeyNation fans are hoping that come September 15th, the only unemployed folks in hockey are those ones handling the negotiations on this contract deal!