|2012 NHL Lockout News: Talks to resume as a cancelled season draws near|
|Written by Anthony Rome|
|Monday, 31 December 2012 23:00|
NHL talks resume as clock ticks
NEW YORK (AP) - The NHL and the players' association are using the final hours of 2012 to try to get closer to an elusive deal that has so far been well out of reach.
Negotiations were scheduled for Monday afternoon at the league's New York office, marking the first time the NHL and the union will be bargaining in nearly three weeks, and the first time they will do so without mediation since early December.
The New Year's clock is ticking while the window to reach a labor agreement to save the season is rapidly closing. No one has said exactly how much time remains, but the belief is the NHL wants a shortened season to start no later than Jan. 19.
That leaves a little less than two weeks to reach an agreement and stage one week of training camp before the puck would drop on a 48-game campaign.
The league and the union had informational discussions - by conference call and in meetings - with staff members that lasted much of Saturday and ended Sunday. Those talks were spurred by the nearly 300-page contract proposal the NHL presented to the union Thursday.
The union is expected to make a counteroffer Monday. These will be the first negotiations since the sides met with a federal mediator Dec.13.
All games through Jan. 14 have been canceled, claiming more than 50 percent of the original schedule. The NHL wants to reach a deal by Jan. 11 and open the season eight days later.
The NHL then pulled all existing offers off the table. Two days of sessions with mediators the following week ended without progress.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because details of the new offer weren't being discussed publicly.
The NHL maintained the deferred payment amount of $300 million it offered in its previous proposal, an increase from an earlier offer of $211 million. The initial $300 million offer was pulled after negotiations broke off this month.
The latest proposal is for 10 years, running through the 2021-22 season, with both sides having the right to opt out after eight years.
The NHL is the only North American professional sports league to cancel a season because of a labor dispute, losing the 2004-05 campaign to a lockout. A 48-game season was played in 1995 after a lockout stretched into January.
It is still possible this dispute could eventually be settled in the courts if the sides can't reach a deal on their own.
The NHL filed a class-action suit this month in U.S. District Court in New York in an effort to show its lockout is legal. In a separate move, the league filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board, contending bad-faith bargaining by the union.
Those moves were made because the players' association took steps toward potentially filing a ``disclaimer of interest,'' which would dissolve the union and make it a trade association. That would allow players to file antitrust lawsuits against the NHL.
Union members voted overwhelmingly to give their board the power to file the disclaimer by Wednesday. If that deadline passes, another authorization vote could be held to approve a later filing.