x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

NHL: Talks resume in bid to end labour dispute as shutout enters 52nd day

Hockey league chiefs will meet with players represenatives again today in a bid to find a solution to the Dh12bn labour dispute that has seen hundreds of NHL games cancelled already this season.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman

The National Hockey League (NHL) and players union will return to the bargaining table today after nearly eight hours of talks yesterday in a last-ditch bid to end the labour dispute which has put the new season on hold.

Players representatives and team owners met in New York to try to broker a peace deal after already having to shelve hundreds of games - including the New Year's Day Winter Classic match.

"With meetings scheduled to resume Wednesday, the league will not characterise the substance or detail of the discussions until their conclusion," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement.

The cancellation last week of the Winter Classic looks to have accelerated the need for negotiations to end the dispute, now into its 52nd day.

Following a lengthy private meeting on Saturday between Daly and NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr that set the stage for Tuesday's meeting, the big guns were again back at the table with league commissioner Gary Bettman and union executive director Donald Fehr joining the talks.

"We're hopeful that we'll start bargaining and we'll continue bargaining until we find a way to make a deal," Donald Fehr told reporters before heading into the talks. "It's very good to be getting back to the table.

"We hope that this time it produces more progress than we've seen in the past and we can figure out a way to make an agreement and to get the game back on the ice as soon as possible."

With the chances for even a partial season slipping away talks have entered a critical stage if the NHL is to avoid losing an entire season for the second time in seven years.

The importance was not lost on the players with several, including Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, arriving in New York in a show of support.

The dispute centres on how to divide $3.3bn (Dh12.1bn) in hockey related revenue.

In its last offer, the NHL presented a six-year proposal that called for an equal split of hockey-related revenue. Under the old agreement players had received 57 per cent of revenue.

The union offered three counterproposals on Oct. 18 that the league quickly shot down, saying later all failed to approach a 50-50 revenue split.

In an attempt to kick start negotiations, the league indicated it is willing to re-examine what has become known as the "make whole provision" that would honour all existing contracts even if the 50-50 split would come into immediate affect with the signing of an CBA.

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