After three-plus months with little significant negotiating, the NHL and the players’ union have traded four proposals, two each, since last Thursday as they attempt to end their labor dispute.
Yes, there finally is some urgency because of an approaching Jan. 11 deadline.
During a meeting Wednesday afternoon in New York City, the union made a counterproposal to the NHL’s New Year’s Day offer. Later in the night, with federal mediator Scot Beckenbaugh in the room, the sides met for nearly five hours, ending the session near 1 a.m.
Donald Fehr, executive director of the players' union, said the sides "moved closer" on some issues, but still had a way to go on other matters.
Fehr wouldn't say whether the players filed a disclaimer of interest to disband the union. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, however, said said the league was not notified, which means the disclaimer was not filed.
The sides plan to meet again on Thursday at 10 a.m..
"As long as the process continues, I am hopeful," Bettman told reporters.
The NHL says it needs to have a collective bargaining agreement in place by Jan. 11 for a 48-game season to start Jan. 19.
There are several issues that need to be ironed out, including how player pensions will be funded, amnesty buyouts and the 2013-14 salary cap limit.
The NHLPA made a huge concession Wednesday, backing off on its desire to have a cap on escrow payments, according to RDS in Canada.
In the NHL’s proposal last Thursday, the league said the pension plan would be funded from the players’ share of yearly revenue, and that $50 million of the $300 million “make-whole” provision would be available for “potential underfunding liabilities of the Plan at end of CBA,” according to ESPN.
The sides are arguing about who would make up the difference in payments if league revenues do not provide funds to match the players’ projected pension number.
As for the 2013-14 salary cap, the owners want it at $60 million, while the players are reportedly seeking it set at $67.5 million. The union also wants the league to permit a larger variance in salaries from year to year than the 10 percent proposed by the NHL.
The NHL Players’ Association has reportedly agreed with the league’s proposal for a 10-year CBA if specific conditions are met.
In another matter, the NHLPA had a self-imposed 11:59 p.m. deadline Wednesday to file a disclaimer of interest, but it passed on the opportunity. The disclaimer would disband the union and enable it to file a lawsuit that claims the lockout is illegal.
Though the players didn’t file Wednesday, they could do so down the road.
A year ago, the NBA reached a settlement 12 days after the union filed a disclaimer of interest.
Breakaways. Flyers center Claude Giroux, who suffered a neck injury playing in Germany, would be ready to play if the season started Jan. 19, GM Paul Holmgren said…..If the season opened Jan. 19, the Flyers will likely host a nationally televised matinee against the Penguins, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review said. A Flyers official said the league has not informed them of their opening-game opponent and is apparently waiting until a CBA is finalized….Penn State will play Vermont at the Wells Fargo Center on Jan. 19 at 7:30 p.m. ..Wednesday was the 109th day of the lockout….Just three Flyers worked out in Voorhees on Wednesday: Kimmo Timonen, Jody Shelley and Andreas Lilja.
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