Mediators unable to breathe life into stalled labor talks

Thu Dec 13, 2012 8:01pm EST
 

(Reuters) - National Hockey League (NHL) owners and players appear no closer to ending a lockout that could wipe out an entire season after working with U.S. federal mediators for a second consecutive day on Thursday.

The mediators and NHL Players' Association (NHLPA) Executive Director Donald Fehr were back at the table Thursday but, unlike Wednesday, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly did not participate.

"There has been contact between the parties today," NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr, who said he spoke with lead NHL counsel Bob Batterman, told reporters.

"I think we're done with contact for tonight, expect there will be contact tomorrow but I am not sure if it will be by telephone or in person."

Bettman has said he cannot see the NHL, which normally runs an 82-game regular season, playing less than a 48-game campaign. But with 42.8 percent of the season already canceled, time is quickly running out.

The two sides appear to have inched closer on the main sticking point of how to divide $3.3 billion in revenue.

The league is seeking an immediate 50-50 split while players, who will see their share chopped from 57 percent, want the cuts brought in gradually with a "make whole" provision in place to cover money that would be lost on current contracts.

Several other contentious items remain on the table, including the length of a new collective bargaining agreement and contract limits to drug testing and continued participate in the Winter Olympics.

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Frank Pingue)

 
National Hockey League (NHL) Commissioner Gary Bettman gestures as he describes negotiations between the NHL and the NHL Players Association regarding the difficulties of their current labor negotiations in New York, December 6, 2012. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson