The counter proposals continued on day 109 of the NHL lockout, and the NHLPA did not file for a ‘disclaimer of interest’ before the 11:59 PM deadline.
“The word ‘disclaimer’ has yet to be uttered to us by the players’ association,” said Bettman, appearing worn but surprisingly chipper when lengthy talks wrapped up shortly after 1 a.m. “When you disclaim interest as a union you notify the other side. We have not been notified and as I said it’s never been discussed so there has been no disclaimer.”
“All I can tell you about that is the players retain all the legal options they have always had,” said Fehr, refusing to offer any detail into the matter.
It also become known yesterday that federal mediator, Scot Beckenbaugh, has been taking part of the meetings all week.
The fact that the NHLPA didn’t file for the disclaimer could mean that they feel a deal is close. It is possible that they could revisit the disclaimer route, but it would require a re-vote.
Talks lasted well past midnight last night, with plans on meeting again this morning around 10:00.
“There’s been some progress, but we’re still apart on a number of issues,” said commissioner Gary Bettman. “As long as the process continues I am hopeful.”
“The parties moved closer together on some issues,” said Fehr. “There is still a ways to go if an agreement can be reached. We’ll consider where we are in the morning and we’ll figure out what to do next.”
The big issues facing them now appears to be pensions and the salary cap ceiling. The NHL is looking for a $60 million salary cap, while the players have come down to $65 million. The players have not included a cap on escrow in their recent offers, which is a move in the owners direction.
“On some issues we agreed, on some we moved towards each other, and on some we said ‘no’ and I think that applies to both parties and how they’ve proceeded during this process,” said Bettman.
“We talked about lots of things. We even had some philosophical discussions about why particular issues were important to each of us, and that’s part of the process.”
It’s hard not to feel optimistic that both sides can reach an agreement soon. They are inching closer and closer. As we’ve seen in the past, things can get derailed quickly though. These latest set of discussions could drag on a little longer. The NHL’s deadline to getting a deal done is reportedly the 11th, to save a 48 game season. There was some speculation that they might be able to get in a 50+ game season if they reached a deal quickly.