The back-and-forth nature of the revived CBA talks continued Wednesday afternoon when the players presented yet another proposal to the NHL. The meeting was relatively brief, lasting roughly an hour, before they split up.
NHLPA head Donald Fehr said it's possible they will meet again later Wednesday or on Thursday.
Tentatively scheduled for both sides to meet again at 8 p.m. tonight. But tentatively is the key word.— Tom Gulitti (@TGfireandice) January 2, 2013
For those keeping track, that is now four proposals that have been made in six days. The NHL reignited the conversation by presenting the players with a new offer last Thursday that moved a little closer to what the players are looking for. In response, the players made an offer Monday, the NHL gave their response on Tuesday and now the union made their counter-offer today, each one seemingly moving a little closer to the other side than the previous. Got all of that? Good.
For folks who might be confused by what's going on right now, it's called bargaining. It's a foreign concept, but you should get used to it because we're going to see a lot in the next few days.
As to the other pressing issue of the day, the deadline for the players to file a disclaimer of interest and more or less disband, Fehr had no comment other than to say that the players retain all their legal options.
You can probably make a safe bet that they will try all they can to meet again Wednesday night, though, because of that disclaimer threat. Everybody would like to avoid going down that road if possible and the closer they are getting through regular negotiations, the less likely that road gets traveled. For that reason, you should expect another meeting before the midnight deadline comes to try and make a little more traction. If the deadine passes and the players didn't file a disclaimer of interest, then it's certainly a positive for how and where things are going.
The lack of details coming out of the meetings has been rather surprising, but it shows how serious they are getting. However, one detail keeps coming up and that's the importance of the pension issue.
Entering day, PAwanted NHL to share pension cost. Perhaps bigger issue: teams' ongoing liability to pay the pension after CBA expires.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) January 2, 2013
It joins a long list of items through these talks that have been the hot-button issue. You have to figure they will find some common ground on this soon; they have reportedly been close to it already. Like everything else, it seems to be a fight over who will pay for the pensions.
Commissioner Gary Bettman has hinted that the last day to start a season of 48 games would be Jan. 19. That would mean a deal would likely need to be completed by Jan. 11 or 12 at the absolute latest but probably before then so they could hammer out the fine details in the paperwork.