NHL labor dispute: Negotiations hit another impasse

Posted: January 05, 2013

With the labor dispute holding the season hostage, the NHL has thus far lost an estimated $1.6 billion, which is about double the amount lost by its players.

Despite the losses, the lockout continues. It reached its 110th day Thursday, and negotiations - which had been so fruitful in the last week - took a turn for the worse in New York City.

The NHL Players' Association, seeking more leverage in the talks, started a two-day player vote to file a disclaimer of interest.

The vote is expected to overwhelmingly give the NHLPA's executive board the power to file the disclaimer, which would disband the union and allow it to file a lawsuit that claims the lockout is illegal.

The players had passed on a chance to file the motion by an 11:59 p.m. deadline Wednesday, but restarted the process after it objected to the league's apparently trying to alter the wording on hockey-related revenue in a recent proposal.

The union believes the NHL tried to remove major penalties on teams that hide or do not report their annual HRR. The league eventually withdrew the change after the players' union objected.

In addition, the union filed a motion in the U.S. District Court of New York seeking to dismiss the league's Dec. 14 class-action complaint that had sought to show the lockout was legal.

No, it was not a productive day. On Friday, a mediator will again meet with both sides, starting at 10 a.m.

The NHL says it needs to have a collective bargaining agreement in place by next Friday for a 48-game season to start Jan. 19.

Were the latest developments just roadblocks that will temporarily delay a settlement? Or will they lead to the second cancellation of an entire season in the last nine years?

The league made a concession by allowing each team two contract buyouts before the 2013-14 season. According to the terms of the NHL's proposal, both buyouts would count toward the players' 50 percent share of HRR.

There are still many issues that need to be settled, including how player pensions will be funded, the maximum length of player contracts, and the salary-cap limit for 2013-14.

The players originally wanted the cap set at $67.5 million but have dropped it to $65 million. The NHL wants it set at $60 million to help small-market teams that are struggling financially.

The Canadian Press reported that the players' union would agree to the cap's floor (minimum amount) being at the same level for a $65 million cap as it would be for a $60 million cap - $44 million.

The upper-level salary cap for this season will be $70.2 million, but it would be prorated over 48 games.

That is, if a season happens.

Contact Sam Carchidi at scarchidi@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @BroadStBull.

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