According to TSN's Aaron Ward, NHLPA and NHL lawyers and financial staff already met in-person today (Sunday) to go over various points of the League's offer.
Several calls took place yesterday, as the Players continued to analyze the proposal. Talks resumed today (Sunday) around 9:30am ET.
According to TSN's Darren Dreger, a series of three conference call sessions were scheduled prior to formally meeting.
However, even when the two sides get together, there are no guarantees that the NHLPA will counter the NHL's offer or if any actual bargaining will take place today.
Sources tell TFP the two sides are in agreement on several key points within the CBA, such as the Players' "Benefit Pension Plan," and issues like keeping the rules for the Entry Level System, Salary Arbitration and Group 3 Unrestricted Free Agency unchanged per the previous CBA.
One area that could become a concern for the Players is the NHL's proposed $60 million salary cap for the 2013-14 season and the escrow figures that go with it.
With the cap staying at the $70.2 million mark (pro-rated) for this season, providing the season actually starts, under the terms of the previous CBA, the NHL is giving its teams approximately eight-to-nine months to fix its roster for the following campaign -- effectively when the parameters of the new CBA will actually take affect, a similar method used by the NFL a couple of years ago.
The NHLPA could fight for a higher cap in 2013-14, but sources tell TFP the higher the cap, the higher the escrow figure will be.
At $60 million, the escrow rate would sit around 6-7 per cent. It would rise if/when the cap rises. With the players' already taking a hit on their salaries, despite the $300 million set aside to make those deals whole, the more money that's put towards escrow, the less happy the Players become.
This could be a necessary evil for the Players in order to get the season going on Jan. 19, and while they've received almost all of that money back in previous years, the NHL will undoubtedly take a hit this season and potentially next season as it gets itself back on track as a result of the lockout.
As the two sides reconvene today, a face-to-face meeting would certainly be encouraging. Both sides agree there is plenty of work that needs to be done before an agreement is reached, but with the League eyeing a Jan. 11 drop-dead date, time is running out.
UPDATE: Monday, Dec. 31, 2012, 10:01am ET
The NHL & NHLPA are expected to meet face-to-face this afternoon.
Details to follow...