Daly: NHL to present new ideas, concepts
TORONTO (CP) - Labour talks resume Wednesday in Toronto, but there won't be a new proposal from the league as some had expected.
"Both parties agreed at last week's meeting that the time for formal proposals, at least during this process, may be behind us and we should try to sit at the table and discuss through the issues and maybe jointly craft something that might work," Bill Daly, the NHL's executive vice-president and chief legal officer, said Tuesday from New York.
"And that's what we're going to try to continue to do."
That will appease NHL Players' Association president Trevor Linden, who warned the league last Friday not to arrive at their next meeting with another salary cap proposal.
"A proposal does not do anything for us," the Vancouver Canucks centre said last Friday. "We have a better chance working in a room and working mutually together on this, we have a much better chance."
On that, it appears both sides finally agree on something.
However, the players were more pessimistic than Daly in the aftermath of last week's meetings, with some even saying the season is done.
The same six-man group as last week will convene Wednesday: Linden, NHLPA senior director Ted Saskin and outside counsel John McCambridge as well as Daly, board of governors chairman Harley Hotchkiss and outside counsel Bob Batterman.
Once again, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA executive director Bob Goodenow will sit this one out.
Daly confirmed his negotiating team met over the weekend to discuss new ideas and try to address some of the issues brought up by Linden during two days of meetings last week.
So while there won't be an NHL proposal, the league says it still comes armed with ideas meant to bridge the gap and somehow reach an agreement before it's too late.
Many believe Wednesday's session marks the last kick at the can at salvaging the 2004-05 season.
"In some sense, I guess it is, because we're in a critical time period," agreed Daly. "But I don't know when that time period necessarily expires. So we'll just go in this process and try to make a deal that works and if we can't, we realize the consequences of that are what they are."
The consequence would be the cancellation of the entire season. None of the four major professional sports in North America has ever gone beginning to end without a single game played. The Stanley Cup is in danger of not being awarded for the first time since the Spanish flu wiped out the 1919 final.
The No. 1 issue continues to be the league's quest for "cost certainty" - a salary cap linking player costs with league revenues.
The union insists some form of payroll tax would work well as a drag on salaries, but the league has long been opposed to it.
"Again, we're against payroll taxes, we don't think they have the effect that they may be intended to have," Daly said. "But, we continue to explore everything with (the union)."
Some suggest the solution lies in a system that incorporates both a salary cap and a payroll tax.
Daly says the league is ready to meet any time, anywhere, but that people should not be alarmed if there aren't talks between the two sides every single day from here on in.
"Any time during this process it may make sense to step back and discuss internally before you go back to the table, because at points you run into dead ends and you need to step back and try to see if there are creative ways around the dead ends," Daly said. "I don't think necessarily that every day between now and us either having an agreement or a cancellation (of the season) will be spent together, but that doesn't mean it won't be time spent towards making the process successful."
Through Tuesday, 707 of the season's 1,230 regular-season games had gone by the wayside