Entering Wednesday night’s lockout negotiations with the NHL in New York City, all the talk surrounding the NHLPA was about the union’s self-imposed disclaimer of interest deadline.
The players could have handed the NHL a letter at 11:59 p.m. and sent the gears in motion to dissolve the union – setting the table for potential anti-trust litigation. But NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the union didn’t file a disclaimer of interest on Wednesday, although the option remains a viable one for the players if the current round of talks don’t produce significant progress.
Has progress been made? The two sides met with federal mediator Scot Beckenbough again on Wednesday, who is bringing the NHL and NHLPA back to the table on Thursday morning at 10 a.m. to continue talks. Fehr said, via Pat Leonard of the NY Daily News, that "the parties moved closer together on some issues, there is still a ways to go if an agreement can be reached."
One of the major issues in the talks is the players’ pension plan, and Bettman has called it a “very complicated issue” that the sides are still debating. Another issue involves the salary cap plummeting to $60 million for the 2013-14 season, and how that drop affects player compensation and escrow. According to Chris Johnston of the Canadian Press, the NHLPA is asking for a $65 million cap next season; but multiple reports indicate they're not seeking a cap on escrow.
They’re talking, and the NHLPA hasn’t pulled the trigger on the nuclear option yet. In the context of what we’ve seen since the middle of the summer, this is a good night. And not just because it gave the world Dreger Face.