Sides continue to talk, but not to each other
Sides continue to talk, but not to each other
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly and Donald Fehr, head of the NHL Players Association (NHLPA), defended their positions during a media blitz, each side blaming the other for stalled negotiations and offering little hope of a quick return to the bargaining table.
The two sides have not met since last Thursday, when US federal mediators joined negotiations but were unable to nudge the parties closer to a new collective bargaining agreement.
“The owners have not indicated their desire to resume,” Fehr told reporters, adding that no new talks are scheduled.
“We have indicated any number of times that we are willing to resume whenever they are.
“We have to find a way to have a discussion. How do you make an agreement if you don’t meet?” While Daly was making the rounds of Toronto radio stations, Fehr met with reporters prior to a NHLPA-sponsored charity game that featured locked out players at the former Maple Leaf Gardens.
The exhibition contest marked the first time since February 1999 that NHL players had skated at the arena and there is growing concern it could be some time before fans see real NHL action anywhere.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has stated he could not see the league playing less than a 48-game regular season and with 526 games, or more than 40 percent of the season, already canceled time is running out.
Daly warned that the league may soon cancel more games, but at another stop the deputy commissioner was asked if he believed there would be a season and he answered with an emphatic “yes.”
“Good, that’s good news, I certainly hope he is right,” said Fehr. “That’s the players’ goal, that’s what we want to try and do and hopefully get back together and negotiate out the remaining issues as soon as possible.” Although no cut-off date has been set, it is believed the two sides have until mid-January to work out a deal or lose the entire season.
“I don’t know that (a mid-January deadline), it is not a decision we would make and there hasn’t been any communication to us in that regard,” said Fehr. “I still presume that there is time and that’s what we’re working for.” With the clocking ticking, the two sides have upped the ante.
The NHLPA membership will conclude a five-day vote on Friday that could give the executive board authority to file a “disclaimer of interest” and dissolve the union, freeing players to file anti-trust lawsuits in the courts and have the lockout deemed illegal.
Saudi Arabia out to make Kingdom 'proud' and repay faith of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
- Juan Antonio Pizzi’s side are in Zurich on a three-week training camp
- SAFF have left no stone turned in preparing the team for their first appearance at the finals since 2006
RIYADH: The president of the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) acknowledges there will be added scrutiny on the Green Falcons when they kick off this summer’s World Cup against hosts Russia in the opening game, but is confident the players can overcome any first-night nerves and rise to the challenge.
Juan Antonio Pizzi’s side are in Zurich on a three-week training camp as they start to fine-tune preparations ahead of the first game on June 14. The Argentine coach has taken 28 players with him, but must whittle the squad down to 23 by June 4.
SAFF have left no stone turned in preparing the team for their first appearance at the finals since 2006, sanctioning five training camps and arranging nine friendlies, several against high-profile opposition. Their final three games are against sides with top 20 FIFA’s rankings, a deliberate strategy to ensure they are not undercooked heading into Group A games against Russia, Uruguay and Egypt.
“We are at a critical stage of our preparations, one that needs concentration and discipline, especially as we face three strong teams in Italy, Peru and Germany,” said president Adel Ezzat in a video on the federation’s Twitter account. “Our objective is to be on form by June 14 when the eyes of the world will be on us in the opening match. We have a bright history in the World Cup and Asian Cup, so it’s our duty to live up to that reputation. I would like to address all Saudi fans, whether they will be watching the games on TV or from the stadiums in Russia: They should pray for the players. The players are our brothers and sons, and we should all love our Saudi national team. I urge the fans and the media to be united around the national team.”
Ezzat said the players have been energised and inspired by a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman before they left for Switzerland. The crown prince demonstrated his commitment to the game in the Kingdom by this week vowing to cover all external debts totalling SR1.277 billion (around $340 million) owed by Saudi Pro League clubs.
“We are optimistic after the historic meeting between the players, staff and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman,” said Ezzat. “The meeting set the tone for the final stage of preparations, and the players are up for the challenge of meeting His Highness’ expectations.
“We are grateful for Prince Mohammed for his constant support and generosity toward Saudi football, be it the national team, clubs or the league. It’s our duty to repay the faith of our leaders. This is something that drives us forward and I’m fully confident in the players’ ability to do us proud in Russia.”