Both parties exchanged proposals on various subjects Wednesday, including the make-whole provision and player contracting, but numerous sources tell TFP a deal is not yet near.
According to two separate sources, some issues "hit a wall" during yesterday's talks. Both sides tried to break through points of frustration, but tensions mounted in some areas, so much so that Boston owner Jeremy Jacobs almost stormed out of negotiations.
"We had a series of meetings today, with very candid discussion," said Winnipeg Jets defenseman Ron Hainsey. "We plan on meeting tomorrow."
The six owners involved in the latest rounds of talks -- Jacobs, Pittsburgh's Ron Burkle, Calgary's Murray Edwards, Toronto's Larry Tanenbaum, Winnipeg's Mark Chipman and Tampa's Jeffrey Vinik -- along with NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, went back and forth from the League's board room to the Players' room to discuss and present new items.
The NHL has proposed a 10-year deal, with an opt-out clause in Year 8 of the agreement. It's unclear, at this point, what would trigger the deal to end early.
The League has also offered to keep the rules surrounding salary arbitration rights and free agent status as is, and has upped their make-whole provision to $300 million, however $50 million of that would be dedicated to pension funding that would not come out of the players' share, something the NHLPA is seems concerned about.
Outside of the make-whole provision, the biggest problem revolves around player contracting. The NHL is firm on its offer of limiting player contracts to five-years, though they'd allow teams to re-sign their own free agents to a maximum of seven-years. The NHL has also pushed the issue of a five per cent variance in annual player salaries, which limits salaries to jump beyond five per cent, per year, throughout their contracts.
The NHLPA has been adamant that they do not want to limit the term of a player's contract, though they seem willing to assist in limiting back-loaded contracts. However, the five per cent figure is not something they are willing to accept.
With regular-season games wiped out through Dec. 14, if a deal is reached by the end of the week, the league could work towards a late-December or Jan. 1 start, with a season that could span between 48-60 games. Once a deal is reached, there is expected to be a five-day window to allow players playing overseas to return to their respective clubs, and to give teams a chance to catch up on re-signing their respective free agents and make roster adjustments. Following that period, a seven-to-ten day training camp will be implemented, which could include two pre-season exhibition games, followed by the start of the regular-season.
Negotiations will continue throughout Thursday in New York, as the two sides could meet as early as noon ET.
TFP Editor-in-Chief David Pagnotta contributed to this report.