The NHLPA’s self-imposed deadline to file a disclaimer of interest came and went Wednesday night without a filing from the union, suggesting that the players believe that continuing talks between the two sides is the best way to move forward toward an agreement.
By allowing the deadline to pass, the NHLPA continues to function and collectively bargain as a union and, for the moment, it keeps the precarious negotiation process intact.
NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr declined to address the union’s decision on filing a disclaimer Wednesday evening, only to say that the players “retain all the legal options they have always had”. Even with the expiration of this mandate,the NHLPA could hold another vote to authorize its executive board with the ability to disclaim in the event negotiations unravel once again.
Wednesday afternoon, the NHLPA submitted a new offer to the league — the fourth proposal exchanged between the two sides in the past six days. When the NHL and NHLPA reconvened in the evening, they met for nearly five hours with federal mediator Scot L. Beckenbaugh present and at his request the two sides are slated to resume talks again Thursday
at 10 a.m. at a time that is to be determined.
Following the session Wednesday night, both NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Fehr acknowledged there has been some progress but there is plenty of ground left to cover.
“The parties moved closer together on some issues,” Fehr told reporters in New York. “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.”
Said Bettman: “There’s been some progress, but we’re still apart on a number of issues. But as long as the process continues, I am hopeful.”
Among the key issues that remain are player pension funds and where the salary cap for the 2013-14 season will fall. The league is seeking a salary cap of $60 million, while the players want a salary cap at $65 million according to Chris Johnston of the Canadian Press.