NHL and NHLPA speaking through a mediator as CBA negotiations slow to a crawl entering Day 112 of the NHL lockout.
CANADIAN PRESS (VIA WINNIPEG FREE PRESS): Chris Johnston reports the only talking between the NHL and NHLPA on Friday was through US federal mediator Scot Beckenbaugh, who spent most of the day and evening walking between NHL HQ and the NHLPA’s hotel for a handful of independent sessions with both sides. It’s unclear when the two sides will sit down again for face-to-face negotiations.
TSN.CA: Analyst Aaron Ward reports mediation will continue at 10.30 am ET today. Darren Dreger credits the mediator for creating enough traction to keep the process moving, and also reported NHL owners will not be returning to the CBA talks. The main sticking points remain the salary cap for 2013-14, the length of player contracts and players’ pensions.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The fact the two sides continue to speak via a mediator demonstrates a willingness to keep things moving, rather than risk another breakdown in talks with the January 11th deadline for a deal looming. It’s definitely better than where we were a week and a half ago, when there was no formal talks taking place.
Dreger has reported the PA might be willing to come down from its demand for an eight year term on player contracts, while Pierre LeBrun feels the NHL might be willing to come up from its demand of a $60 million salary cap for 2013-14 to perhaps as high as $62.5 million. Obviously, there is “wiggle room” on both issues to reach a reasonable compromise. The league accepts 7-year term limits, the PA accepts a $62.5 million salary cap.
CBC.CA: Elliotte Friedman examines the role mediator Beckenbaugh is playing in these negotiations. The mediators is “not going to reveal to one side what the other is thinking. Notice the section in the FAQ about confidentiality. Beckenbaugh has to be very careful that he does not reveal what the NHL is thinking to the NHLPA and vice versa. So, when he’s shaping the conversation, he can’t do it in a way that’s going to give away the opponent’s strategy or thought process.”
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports NHL commissioner Gary Bettman angered the players taking part in the NHL CBA negotiations on Thursday by claiming a number of NHL general managers had told him they regret some of the contracts they’d previously handed out and would welcome the opportunity to “dismantle” their teams to become cap compliant when the salary cap drops for 2013-14. When pressed by the players to name those GMs, Bettman refused, leading Brooks to cite this incident as one reason why negotiations stalled on Thursday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If what Brooks’ sources told him is true, this was a serious miscalculation on Bettman’s part. I fail to see what he believed he could gain by angering the players that way.
NATIONAL POST: Bruce Arthur reports anger and mistrust between the two sides are the factors delaying negotiations.
NBC SPORTS PRO HOCKEY TALK: Jame O’Brien cited a “tweet” from Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos the NHLPA already has the votes it needs to approve the executive to file a disclaimer of interest, though they haven’t set a timing to make such a move at this time. O’Brien also cited a reports from RDS.CA’s Renaud Lavoie claiming the NHLPA would like to see the minimum player salary increase to $800K by the ninth year of a ten-year CBA. O’Brien suggests that number might not be as outrageous as it seems, considering how much the NHL’s revenue has been growing.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some pundits doubt NHL revenue will keep rising by the same average annual amount (7 percent) as it did under the previous CBA. Regardless, as long as there’s steady growth over the ten year period, it will result in a steady increase in salaries, which could also drive up the minimum salary. As for the disclaimer, I think NHLPA director Donald Fehr will hold off playing that card unless talks irrevocably break down. CSNPhilly.com’s Tim Panaccio suggested via Twitter the PA might be awaiting the results of the vote by 6 pm ET today, and then return to the table on Sunday.
ESPN.COM: Scott Burnside chastises both sides for flushing away the millions of dollars they could’ve earned had they begun the season on January 12th.
SPORTSNET.CA: Michael Grange questions the players’ tack in these negotiations, wondering what they stand to gain by stretching out negotiations.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The reason was there was no other tack to take. Waiting for a better offer has worked well for the players, forcing the league to soften its demands. The players are well aware how much money they’re losing in the short term. This is about getting a deal which will benefit them over the long term.
PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW: Penguins captain Sidney Crosby could sign with a European club if the NHL follows through with its threat to cancel the season by January 11 if no new CBA is in place by then.
CSNNE.COM: Boston Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid continues his recovery from multiple blood clot surgeries on his arm. If the NHL returns to action this month, McQuaid could remain sidelined through February.
STARTRIBUNE.COM: Wren Blair, the first coach of the Minnesota North Stars, has passed away at the age of 87.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to the Blair family.