One day after NHL commissioner Gary Bettman suggested the two sides take a break from collective bargaining negotiations for two weeks, NHL Players' Association executive director Donald Fehr took to the airwaves to comment.
Fehr was a guest Friday on Hockey Night in Canada Radio with host Gord Stellick and HNIC host Ron MacLean.
When asked what his response to Bettman was when the proposed moratorium was first brought up, Fehr said, "I said to him that I didn't think it was a particularly good idea. The parties are still talking. Hopefully it won't result in that."
Fehr revealed there were conversations between staff Friday, but no negotiations with the NHL.
The lockout has now reached Day 62. The two sides have been unable to agree on the division of money, proposed changes to player contract rights and who pays for the damange caused by the lockout.
When HNIC Radio asked Fehr about the perception that the league has made more concessions than the union, he took exception.
"I gotta tell ya that it’s a pretty bizarre world in which you would reach the conclusion that the NHL has made the concessions. They asked for massive salary reductions. The players agreed to reduce their salaries over time, even under our initial proposal in a fashion which would have been worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the owners.
"And when you measure all the central economic issues and you measure it from the vantage point of the last agreement, has the bargaining moved in the direction of the players or the owners? The answer is it’s moved in the direction of the owners. The only way the owners have made a concession is if you treat seriously the notion that we made a first proposal which was horrible, terrible and miserable, and our second proposal was only horrible and terrible, so we moved in a new direction."
The NHL wants to limit contracts to five years, make rules to prohibit back-diving contracts the league feels circumvent the salary cap, keep players ineligible for unrestricted free agency until they are 28 or have eight years of professional service time, cut entry-level deals to two years, and make salary arbitration after five years.
There had been hope for a shortened 68-game season starting Dec. 1, but now the NHL is expected to cancel more games beyond Nov. 30 as early as the start of next week.With files from Canadian Press and Associated Press