Hainsey anxious to get NHL labor talks restarted
The lockout reached its 94th day Tuesday, and all games have been canceled through Dec. 30. Bettman has said the league doesn't want a season with fewer than 48 games per team, so play would likely have to get under way by mid-January for that to be possible.
"We would prefer that we were done already," Hainsey said. "There is still time to get something done and salvage a reasonable number of games for a season. We're not up against a hard deadline yet, but we are getting short on time."
After talks ended last week, the focus suddenly shifted toward the courts when the NHL filed a federal class action suit Friday, seeking to establish that its lockout is legal. In a separate move, the NHL filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board, claiming the players' association has bargained in bad faith.
The NHL says the union's executive board is seeking authorization to give up its collective bargaining rights, a necessary step before players could file an antitrust lawsuit. The union has declined comment, although a vote on the matter will reportedly be completed Thursday.
"Unfortunately the league filed suit against the players," Hainsey said. "That's never something you want to get to, obviously. It would be much more difficult to see a quick settlement through the courts than bargaining."
Hainsey maintains his optimism that if the sides can find their way back to the table they can figure out the path to a deal. The outlook is now somewhat cloudy because not only have the sides failed to work out an agreement, they appear to have lost some direction on how to get the process going again.
Federal mediation hasn't helped much in two tries over a combined four days. The most success seemed to come in New York, when six owners joined about 18 players in talks without Bettman and Fehr in the room until the end of that process. Hainsey, who is in the final season of a five-year deal he signed with the former Atlanta Thrashers, is all for trying that again.
"Both (sides) were very respectful of each other," he said. "They were good meetings, they were productive, we did make progress. We were very appreciative of the way we were treated in the meetings by the owners. ... Maybe it's something that is worth revisiting and worthwhile and could possibly bring us closer to a deal."
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