After another marathon session between the two sides Wednesday, talks between the NHL and NHLPA are expected to continue for a third straight day Thursday in New York. For the first time this week, though, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr will be back at the bargaining table.
On Wednesday, the players and owners exchanged proposals during a nearly 10-hour session, and reality rather than optimism prevailed as the two sides got down to discussing the details. Early reports ahead of Thursday’s talks aren’t exactly encouraging, either. TSN’s Bob McKenzie tweeted that there’s “a hugely negative vibe emanating from both sides right now. Keeping this process on rails today will be challenging.” Darren Dreger reported that the owners were “infuriated” when their offer to increase “make whole” payments wasn’t received well.
Here’s what you should check out to get caught up:
• The owners made some changes to their previous CBA demands. Pierre LeBrun has a good breakdown of the alterations and new demands:
- Raising the total money in its Make Whole provision to $300 million from the previous offer of $211 million. This is a key move, to say the least.
- League backs off contracting-rights demands on unrestricted free agency age (27) and salary arbitration, offering to keep both the same;
- However, the league stays firm on five-year term limits for contracts and 5 percent salary variance; the only exception is that when a team re-signs its own free agent it could go to seven years in term.
- League wants 10-year term on CBA (union has asked for five-year term).
• From Damian Cox of the Toronto Star: Talks grew heated Wednesday, particularly between Boston owner Jeremy Jacobs and Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller. Despite tempers flaring, the two sides kept working.
• ESPN’s Katie Strang explains the NHLPA’s request to remove restrictions on negotiation participants:
It remains unclear exactly how much common ground was forged, although the NHLPA appears to be growing increasingly wary of the current players/owners-only meetings.
Multiple sources told ESPNNewYork.com that there is some concern among the union’s membership that the format may be an attempt to divide the players and isolate the constituency from its leadership.