The NHLPA has now requested the return of federal mediators to be present during the next round of negotiations.
On Nov. 26, both sides hired the services of the Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service (FMCS) to assist in meetings and negotiations. After two days of mediation, talks broke off. Their services have since been requested, but the NHL has not yet agreed.
One NHL executive involved in these CBA talks told TFP Editor-in-Chief David Pagnotta that the League wants to wait to hear from the NHLPA before "making any judgment on mediation."
Deputy Director Scot L. Beckenbaugh and Director of Mediation Services John Sweeney are currently in Washington, D.C., and would not be able to arrive in New York City until later this evening, providing the NHL agrees.
The mediators could return if the NHL gives its blessing, however NHL officials have told TFP they do not see a fit right now. Their opinion could change after today's meeting.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr are expected to be involved
Several proposals on various issues were pitched yesterday, as talks became heated. According to various reports, Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller became extremely animated after the owners told the players they might pull their offer from the table. Later, Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs threatened to walk out of the meetings in frustration.
Two separate sources told TFP last night that some issues "hit a wall" during talks, but both sides tried to work through them.
The NHL has proposed a 10-year deal, with an opt-out clause in Year 8 of the agreement. It's remains unclear 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 seems concerned about.
In addition, the NHL has proposed limits to player contracts. Under their offer, teams would be able to re-sign their own restricted and unrestricted free agents to a maximum of seven-years, while those free agents to sign with new teams are limited to a maximum of a five-year contract.
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. This point is a serious concern for the Players.
Several players have left the meetings over the last 24 hours, including Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews and St. Louis Blues star David Backes. Toronto Maple Leafs owner Larry Tannenbaum and Winnipeg Jets owner Mark Chipman have also left.
If the two sides can come to terms on a deal before next week, the NHL regular-season could begin in late-December.
The NHL has proposed to have games played on Dec. 24 and Dec. 25, however it's believed a more likely start date would be Dec. 26, upon which a 56-game schedule would be implemented.
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.