Labor Log: Are #NHL #NHLPA talks reason to believe or just wasted time?


Well, dear readers, there are seemingly reasons to believe the negotiations between the NHL and NHLPA somewhere in New York are going well. After all, the sessions will continue Thursday.

These sides have not met for three consecutive days since the lockout began 43 days ago. (Yes, it has been only that long.)

There was a sense the Wednesday session might not go well, at least among those among us in the media who are begging for scraps of off-the-record information.

The thinking: Nothing really happened during seven hours of meeting Tuesday, and the sides had not even touched upon the “Make Whole” proposal from the NHL to honor current players’ contracts. Also, the league was feeling pressure – internally (moderate owners) and externally (sponsors) – to do a deal, and the union anticipated that development and planned to leverage it for more gains.

However, after a delayed start because of an internal union meeting, the NHL and NHLPA met from around 3:30 p.m. to about 8 p.m. on Wednesday, and neither side had anything to offer publicly after that session.

Scoreboard reads: About 12 hours of meetings over Tuesday and Wednesday, and not one substantive word uttered by anybody in a position of authority.

No rhetoric from commissioner Gary Bettman. No history lessons from union executive Donald Fehr. Only confirmation of the actual meetings – along with a pledge not to characterize said meetings – from NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly.

Even players have seemingly shut up.

Quite is as golden as Stanley Cup silver, some folks think.

(Of course, there remained links about meetings details on Wednesday, so the concept of silence remains subjective to one or both parties.)

Craig Adams, the Penguins union rep, said in a text message he “can’t really go into” details of what transpired Tuesday during a seven-plus hour meeting at an undisclosed location in New York.

“I would say the vibe was positive and constructive,” he said, decline any additional details.

Adams and Penguins star Sidney Crosby may have stayed for the Wednesday meeting, but a Nor’easter that is pummeling New York forced them to catch an early-morning flight back to Pittsburgh.

So, all is well, right?


Look, labor negotiations are not Presidential elections. There is no poll data off which to reach a conclusion as to how these talks will play out.

Take what you will from this: The last time the NHL and NHLPA spent this much time talking was the last week of August, when they met three times in four days.

In the end a whole lot of nothing came from that stretch.

Fans starving for this lockout to end should probably prepare for more nothing, and be joyfully surprised if something good comes of what is happening this week in a snow-covered Big Apple.

This is, as former Penguins coach Michel Therrien might say, “a process.”

It would be nice to know, though, if either the NHL or NHLPA has “got to its game,” as current Penguins coach Dan Bylsma would say.

 If not, that needs to happen soon if games are to be played by Dec. 1, which is the hope for everybody on both sides.