NHL lockout: Sides meet twice as deadline looms
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There's no guarantee that swapping a lot of words and proposals will yield a new collective bargaining agreement in the NHL.
The league and NHL Players' Association seem to have decided to give that approach a shot, though.
They met twice Wednesday, including a session that went deep into the evening.
The urgency on both sides is obvious -- and justified -- because NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has said that a new deal must be in place by Jan. 11 to make a 48-game regular season, the shortest the league is willing to accept, possible.
Wednesday's talks also took place against a looming midnight deadline for the NHL to file a disclaimer of interest with the league, something union officials declined to say whether they intended to do.
Filing the disclaimer would mean the NHLPA no longer is representing its members in the negotiations, and would clear the way for players to file individual antitrust lawsuits against the NHL.
If the NHLPA opted against taking that step, it could do so again at some point in the future if its members would again authorize such a move.
One of the major hurdles that has arisen during the talks recently deals with pensions.
That had been generally regarded as a settled issue for a while, but players say the league changed the language on pensions in the proposal it submitted last Thursday.
Until then, players felt that pensions were the one area where they would fare better under the CBA now being negotiated than they had under the one that expired Sept. 15.
Another of the issues still to be resolved is the salary-cap ceiling for the 2013-14 season. The NHL wants to set it at $60 million.
The sides met for about an hour Wednesday afternoon, during which time the NHLPA countered an offer it had gotten from the league the previous night. That made it the fourth proposal the sides had exchanged in a span of seven days.
Penguins player representative Craig Adams attended the sessions for the second day in a row. Other players who participated were Brad Boyes, Chris Campoli, Mathieu Darche, Rick DiPietro, Shane Doan, Andrew Ference, Ron Hainsey, Jamal Mayers, George Parros, Martin St. Louis and Kevin Westgarth.
A few hours before the talks resumed Wednesday, a half-dozen Penguins convened at Southpointe for yet another player-organized workout.
Those began even before the lockout was imposed Sept. 16, and have allowed participants -- at least those regulars who make up the core group -- to keep a decent edge on their games while they wait for training camps to open.
The practices have been structured, with specific objectives to achieve on a given day, and the guys who have gone through them believe the time and effort invested has been worth it.
"Everyone who is here skating is probably in better skating shape than they would be normally," left winger Matt Cooke said. "I know that some skates around North America haven't been quite the tempo or pace that we've had."
Defenseman Brooks Orpik said that was particularly true some weeks ago, around the time he returned to the area after spending the early months of the lockout at his offseason home in Boston.
"The first week I was back and we had 12 or 13 guys, those were the best skates I've had during the lockout, in terms of speed and pace," he said.
"Hopefully, we'll get those numbers back here by Friday or, at the latest, Monday or Tuesday next week."
NOTE -- The official website of Banksa Bystrica, a team in the Slovak Extraliga, reported that Penguins winger Tanner Glass and fellow NHL players Clayton Stoner and Dana Tyrell have left the club but are expected to return if the NHL season is canceled.
First Published January 3, 2013 12:12 am