Pittsburgh Penguins: No talks, no hope; stalemate continues

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No news was not good news as the league and the NHL Players' Association pulled into a deadline day Thursday with no sign they will forge a deal on a new collective bargaining agreement.

After a news conference Wednesday to announce the New York Islanders move to Brooklyn in 2015, commissioner Gary Bettman said it looks as if a full schedule of 82 games "is not going to be a reality."

He reiterated the league's stance that the season would have to start by Nov. 2 to squeeze in a full schedule, and, with the need for a short training camp, the latest a deal could be struck and the lockout lifted would be today.

The two sides have not formally met since Thursday, and there were no new talks scheduled. Tuesday night, the union offered to schedule talks, but the NHL declined.

Owners locked out the players Sept. 15 when the previous CBA expired.

Bettman's gloomy forecast stemmed from the fact that the league feels no reason to talk for now, apparently because the NHLPA is not promising to negotiate based on a proposal the NHL put forth last week rather than the union's latest ideas.

"We said to them that we are prepared to meet if you want to discuss our offer or you want to make a new offer," Bettman said. "They have no inclination in doing either. And so, there really was no point in meeting at this point."

Donald Fehr, executive director of the NHLPA, saw things differently.

"The players made multiple core economic proposals [a week ago] that were a significant move in the owners' direction," he said in a statement. "We are and continue to be ready to meet to discuss how to resolve our remaining differences, with no preconditions. For whatever reason, the owners are not.

"At the same time they are refusing to meet, they are winding the clock down to yet another artificial deadline they created."

Bettman indicated that the league's latest proposal was predicated on an 82-game schedule, but he did not say that the deal would be off the table once games are permanently canceled, which could happen as early as today.

Bettman didn't sound as if he expected anything positive to happen soon.

"The fact of the matter is, there are just sometimes where you need to take time off because it's clear that you can't do anything to move the process forward, and we're at one of those points right now because we gave our very best offer."

He added that once a full season is not feasible, things "in some respects, may get more difficult."

The NHL previously canceled the first three weeks of the season, through next Thursday, but those games could be made up if a deal is reached that allows for 82 games.

The NHL's proposal was labeled a 50-50 split of revenues, but upon examining the deal, players balked at a few details, including language that could question the definition of "hockey-related revenue," and a "make-whole" clause that uses deferred money to bridge a salary gap created by lowering the players' revenue share immediately.

The union came back Thursday with three counterproposals. The league rejected them in less than an hour, and there have been no formal talks since. So, the stalemate continues, now with the biggest threat of games being on the line.

Bettman is putting the onus on the players.

"You can't dance by yourself."


Penguins center Evgeni Malkin had a power-play goal and two assists, but former Penguins winger Ruslan Fedotenko had a hat trick -- all power-play goals-- to lead Donbass past Malkin's Metallurg Magnitogorsk, 4-3, in overtime in the Kontinental Hockey League. Former Penguins winger Alexei Ponikarovsky assisted on all four Donbass goals.



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