These talks, spurred by a significant new offer from the league on Thursday, are working toward what seems to be a Jan. 11 final deadline for solving an impasse that threatens to shut down the National Hockey League completely for the second time in eight years.
"[It was] purely informational today," deputy commissioner Bill Daly said Saturday night. "Going to have more of the same type sessions tomorrow. [We] haven't nailed down if or when we will have a bargaining session tomorrow."
A deal between league commissioner Gary Bettman and union head Donald Fehr would see a 48-game season begin on Jan. 19 after one week of training camp and no exhibition games.
CBC Sports and Hockey Night in Canada sources say the new proposal totalled more than 300 pages and included a summary of key points, a “Memorandum of Understanding” that goes into more detail, and a purely legal document detailing the offer in a step-by-step format.
It is not known at this point if the union will negotiate off the new proposal — in effect accepting the premise while working on the details — or submit a full proposal of its own, something that could take a few days to put together.
Under the league's new offer, term limits of the deal would still be 10 years with mutual opt-out at eight, there would be a raise of the maximum length of contract from five years to six (seven if re-signing your own player), and a $300-million US “make-whole” provision for existing contracts that would be affected by the new CBA (collective bargaining agreement).
There would also be a compliance buyout for each team, allowing them to take one contract, buy it out and not count it against the proposed $60-million cap (that would begin with the 2013-2014 season). It would, however, count against the player’s share of hockey-related revenue.
Escrow would continue as each player would have a portion of his salary held back until the end of a season and the profits counted up. If the players have earned less than a 50-50 split of revenues, they receive monies from escrow to bring it back up. If they have earned more, the escrow goes to the league.
Players are set to miss their sixth paycheque of the 2012-13 season on Sunday while the positive attention the league has been accustomed to receiving over the new year's holiday with the Winter Classic outdoor game appears as though it will be replaced by more focus on the labour dispute.
So far, more than 50 per cent of the schedule has been lost to the lockout, totalling 625 games.
Many reports say if the league does begin play, each team would compete only within its conference.