NEW YORK (AP) — NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said Friday that he is out of ideas how to get negotiations back on track to save the hockey season.
Talks fell apart Thursday night amid back-and-forth accusations, and the fallout was still being felt Friday. The two sides had no contact with each other on the 83rd day of the owners’ lockout of players.
“I have no reason, nor any intention, of reaching out to the union right now,” Daly said in an email to The Associated Press. “I have no new ideas. Maybe they do. We are happy to listen.”
If the players do have a suggestion, they haven’t offered it yet. Their most recent proposal was turned down quickly on Thursday by the NHL, which wanted a yes or no answer on three specific conditions the league said were non-negotiable. When the union tried to bargain the points, the meeting ended abruptly.
That has left the NHL’s labor situation in limbo.
“We spent much of Thursday evening and Friday updating players on what happened the last few days,” players’ association special counsel Steve Fehr said Friday. “The differences between us have been narrowed significantly and hopefully we will find a way to bridge the remaining gap very soon.”
All games have been canceled through Dec. 14, which is only a week away, so more games will surely be wiped off the schedule soon. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said Thursday that he won’t allow a season to be played that contains fewer than 48 games per team — the length of the season that was played after a lockout ended in January 1995.
If there isn’t a resolution soon, Sidney Crosby appears ready to find a place to play elsewhere.
The Pittsburgh Penguins star wants to get back to work. He said Friday the prospect of lacing up his skates in Europe is growing more appealing as the lockout nears the three-month mark. The breakdown in negotiations left Crosby “disappointed” and considering other opportunities.
“I just want to play hockey,” Crosby told reporters after an informal workout with some of his teammates on Friday morning. “As far as whatever option is best there, I’ll start thinking of it a lot more because this stuff is getting ridiculous.”
Crosby was part of the players’ negotiating team over three days in New York until the talks fell apart Thursday.
With no deal in the works, Crosby took a late-night flight back to Pittsburgh wondering what else the players could have done to move things along.
The lockout has become another setback in a maddening two years for the game’s most popular player. The 2007 NHL MVP and 2010 Olympic gold medalist has been limited to just 28 games since January 2011 due to a series of debilitating concussions. He is healthy now and signed a 12-year contract extension last summer that would keep him in Pittsburgh until his late-30s.
Yet instead of focusing on getting the Penguins back to the Stanley Cup finals, Crosby has spent the last three months trying to help salvage at least part of the season. The last NHL lockout resulted in the 2004-05 season getting wiped out.
“The foundation (for a deal) is there and I don’t think we can move any more,” Crosby said. “We’ve done everything from our side to make this work”
Though any foreign team that signs Crosby also would have to take out an expensive insurance policy, Crosby maintains playing overseas — where dozens of NHL players are keeping sharp, including Penguins teammate Evgeni Malkin — is a “practical” alternative.
“I think I’ve tried to be optimistic and things like that and given it every chance possible,” Crosby said. “But I’ve got make sure I keep playing hockey. I haven’t played for a while.”