NHLPA boss Donald Fehr maintains that league, union were close to a deal

Associated Press

TORONTO - Donald Fehr maintains that the NHL and the NHLPA were close to a deal before talks broke off Thursday night.

The NHLPA's executive director was in Toronto on Saturday to speak to a meeting of the Canadian Auto Workers union.

Fehr told reporters afterwards that he thought the owners and players were "very close" to agreeing to a new collective bargaining agreement before talks broke down in New York.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said at the time he didn't think the owners and players were close to a deal.

Fehr says he has not spoken directly with NHL representatives and that there are no further talks scheduled.

But he adds negotiations are further ahead than they were a week ago, even after negotiations collapsed.

Fehr says there is a tentative agreement over a pension plan but that other key issues, including salaries, are farther away from being settled.

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