The NHL and its players’ association turned over a new leaf with the new year. They spent an entire day working on getting the league back on the ice.
League executives and union members spent Tuesday in New York meeting internally and in small groups, a process that started at noon, and they gathered formally at 9 p.m. The nearly hourlong conference concluded with the NHL delivering a new, comprehensive proposal, its second in less than a week.
The union was planning to examine the offer overnight and into this morning before getting back to the league, NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr told reporters in Manhattan. He said it was “reasonably certain” negotiations would continue today.
“We’re clearly not done,” said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, who told reporters the league moved on some issues but stood firm on others.
The meetings marked the second straight day of talks, a flurry of activity considering the sides hadn’t met since Dec. 6. Also unlike prior protocol, details of the negotiations remained relatively quiet. Reports said some early discussions centered on revenue sharing and pensions.
The start of formal talks continually got delayed – from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. then ultimately until 9 – as the league formulated its response to the collective bargaining offer made by the NHLPA on Monday.
The determined effort was necessary because time is running out to salvage at least part of the 2012-13 season. Commissioner Gary Bettman has set Jan. 11 as the deadline to make a deal. He would like to conduct at least a 48-game season and said it needs to start by Jan. 19.
The NHL’s prior offer, made late last week, moved in the players’ direction on contract term limits, yearly salary variance and player buyouts.
The union, though, was believed to be against the NHL’s desire to have a $60 million salary cap in 2013-14. This season’s cap was set to be $70.2 million, and several teams have already committed more than $60 million to players next season. The Buffalo Sabres have more than $50.6 million earmarked for 14 players, which would leave them less than $10 million to spend on the additional six to nine players needed for a full roster.