Sides meet apart, with mediator

WOODBRIDGE, N.J. -- The NHL and NHL Players' Association concluded their latest round of labor talks with a federal mediator on Wednesday, with deputy commissioner Bill Daly saying afterward there was "no conclusion" to the process and several players believed to be upset at what they feel is the league's unwillingness to negotiate.

There are no future meetings scheduled, although NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr said he expects to be in touch with the mediator on Thursday.

Wednesday's session between the sides -- the first since talks broke down last Thursday -- involved a federal mediator and lasted approximately six hours. Daly, though, said the sides were never in the same room.

Fehr wouldn't divulge details of the meeting, but he did not paint an optimistic picture.

"All I am going to say is there wasn't any change in position," Fehr said.

Several sources told ESPNNewYork.com that, to the NHLPA's understanding, the league's stance has not changed since last Thursday and that it maintains a "take-it-or-leave-it" position.

"That's not much of a decision," one player told ESPNNewYork.com, indicating the lack of progress from the day's session.

Daly told ESPNNewYork.com via email that the league never put its last offer on the table, although the mediator may have presented the union with a "what-if" scenario should it resurrect its proposal.

Regardless, it is believed that several players were upset at what they felt was the league's unwillingness to budge on the offer proposed last week, especially given the travel considerations made to participate in Wednesday's discussions. Eleven players attended the meeting, several of whom flew in to participate.

Daly indicated the NHLPA was expected to get back to federal mediator Scot Beckenbaugh later Wednesday evening and that the NHL was awaiting that response.

"Really, there's nothing new to report," Daly said. "We don't have a conclusion in the process."

The two parties met separately with a federal mediator at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services' regional office. The league and union originally had agreed to keep the location undisclosed to avoid media interference.

This is the second time the sides have attempted to bridge the gap through the use of federal mediators. The FMCS also met with the league and union last month, an endeavor that lasted less than two days after the two sides were deemed too far apart.

This would have been the first negotiating session between the sides since talks broke down last Thursday. All games through Dec. 30 have been canceled, or about 43 percent of the season.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.