As the NHL lockout enters Day 107, the league and the NHLPA are scheduled for a face-to-face meeting today in New York City.
THE GLOBE & MAIL: David Shoalts reported the NHL and NHLPA will meet at NHL headquarters in New York City today, which will be the first face-to-face meeting between the two sides since December 13. The league has said in its latest offer it will only accept a 48-game season beginning January 19th, meaning the two sides have seven-ten days to hammer out an agreement. The NHLPA has until January 2, 2013 to file a disclaimer of interest, but if it choose not to act by that date, it can stage another vote on the issue by its membership at a later date.
TSN.CA: Aaron Ward said it was reasonable to expect the NHLPA will have some players attending today’s meeting, as well as lawyers and financial staff from both sides who were involved in this weekend’s conference calls reviewing and clarifying the league’s recent offer.
NATIONAL POST: Bruce Arthur believes the NHL needs to cease its pointless efforts trying to undermine NHLPA director Donald Fehr’s influence over the players and negotiate with him.
CBC.CA: Elliotte Friedman calls upon the league negotiators to keep their cool with Fehr’s tactics, as his negotiating style has driven them to distraction.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league has gotten what it wanted on the core issues (division of revenue, contract term limits, capping salary variance) from these CBA negotiations . Sure, Fehr’s negotiating style can be frustrating, but he cannot be faulted for trying to get the best deal he can for the players from a league which hasn’t made concessions, but merely softened its demands. The time for theatrics is over, now they must spend the next 7-10 days in serious negotiations if there’s to be a season-saving deal.
SPORTSNET.CA: John Shannon believes the NHLPA will make a counter-offer today, suggesting issues like next season’s salary cap, a cap on escrow and if amnesty buyouts will count against the players’ share of revenue could be significant sticking points.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the NHL is proposing “clubs be charged the difference between a player’s NHL cap hit and the NHL minimum salary (proposed $625,000) for those athletes on one-way deals who are assigned to another pro league”. The league wants this to apply to existing contracts, while the NHLPA wants it only on players who sign contracts going forward. Brooks points out this could adversely affect the NY Rangers salary cap for this season, as most of defenseman Wade Redden’s contract will count against their cap even if they demoted him to the minors.
The league is proposing a one-time-only compliance buyout, but under the stipulation those occur in June, 2013. The risk is a player like Redden could suffer a serious injury this season making him ineligible for a buyout in June. Brooks also noted such buyouts would increase the number of free agents in next summer’s market while a number of teams are dealing with reduced cap space.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If a season-saving deal is worked out over the next two weeks, it’ll be interesting to see how these two issues are addressed.
COLUMBUS DISPATCH’s Aaron Portzline reports via Twitter he spoke with NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly regarding a rumor of the Blue Jackets and Winnipeg Jets swapping conferences for this season. “”Not being considered. Has never been considered”, replied Daly.
NBC SPORTS PRO HOCKEY TALK: James O’Brien cited a “tweet” from Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press, who quoted an anonymous league source saying an extra $100 million could be on the table if the season were to begin on January 12, but a deal would have to be reached by Thursday, January 3.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As much as I’d like to see the NHL start as soon as possible, I doubt the two sides will get a deal done in time for a January 12th start date. I’m guessing these negotiations go right up to the January 11th deadline set by the league to get a 48-game schedule starting January 19th.
TORONTO SUN: Summit Series hero Paul Henderson has made the final list for the 2012 Order of Canada. Joining Henderson on the list is his Team Canada teammate and Hockey Hall of Fame goaltender Ken Dryden.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to Henderson, who is battling cancer and will turn 70 in January, and to Dryden, who went on to become a best-selling author, president of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and a Liberal MP.