The back-and-forth between the NHL and NHLPA is expected to continue Wednesday, the 109th day of the lockout, with the union slated to respond to the league’s latest proposal for a new collective bargaining agreement.
The two sides have exchanged three offers over the past five days as pressure to salvage a shortened season builds.
“The fact that we are involved in a continuous process is something I’m glad to see, but we are clearly not done yet,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told reporters in New York Tuesday night. NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr was equally tight-lipped about the proceedings and declined to characterize the talks. (Check out video of the latest comments from Bettman and Fehr here.)
Earlier this week, Bettman said that Jan. 19 is the latest date the league would start a 48-game season. That would require a deal to be in place by Jan. 11, Bettman said.
Wednesday marks a different deadline in the process, though. In a December vote, NHLPA membership authorized its executive board to file a disclaimer of interest but required that a decision be made by midnight Jan. 2. If the union believes the two sides are making genuine progress and are close to a deal, it will likely let the self-imposed deadline pass without filing the disclaimer of interest.
Even if the deadline passes without a filing, the NHLPA could hold another vote to authorize a disclaimer once again should negotiations fall apart.
• Elsewhere, Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom has missed two consecutive games for Dynamo Moscow since suffering a neck bruise in a game on Dec. 26 and there is uncertainty as to when he will be able to return.
“Hard to say about the recovery time. Day to day, maybe week to week,” Backstrom’s European agent Gunnar Svensson told Russian Machine.