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NHL, players union still exchanging contract proposals
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and federal mediator Scot Beckenbaugh met for about an hour with NHL Players' Association special counsel Steve Fehr and a small group of players at league offices Thursday morning, and a larger negotiating session was planned for later as the sides work to try to resolve the 110-day lockout.
Bettman repeatedly has said that the point of no return is a 48-game season that would start on Jan. 19, and the urgency is evident, even if the results so far are mixed.
The two sides were going back-and-forth, exchanging four proposals in the past week, and were said to be closer on some issues, but apart on several others, including how to fund pensions if revenues sink and a salary cap for 2013-14. The league wants $60 million; the players proposed $65 million. The NHL also agreed on two compliance buyouts per team prior to the '13-14 season - that money would not count against the cap, but be counted against the union's share of the revenue split.
In what appears to be an effort to keep pressure on the league to negotiate, there were multiple reports that Donald Fehr, the union's executive director and the PA's executive board, has asked for a re-vote among the more than 700 players to re-affirm the authorization of filing a disclaimer of interest. The players voted overwhelmingly on Dec. 21 to give the board the power to disclaim, dissolve the union and form a trade association, which would allow players to file anti-trust suits, a tactic employed by the NBA in 2011.
But Thursday's self-imposed midnight deadline passed without the union notifying the NHL of a disclaimer, so a re-vote would be required. Bettman said late Wednesday the word "disclaimer" had not been mentioned in the CBA discussions.