Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Sides Seeing Double Meet Twice as Deadline Looms

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Sides Seeing Double Meet Twice as Deadline Looms

Article excerpt

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. …

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