Salary cap, player pensions remain sticking points in CBA talks
by Christian Arnold/Correspondent
NEW YORK – The self-imposed disclaimer of interest deadline came and went without the NHL Players Association pulling the trigger on an option that could have been catastrophic to collective bargaining negotiations.
“When you disclaim interest as a union, you notify the other side. We have not been notified,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said after a late night bargaining session with the union. “ And as I said it has never been discussed. So there has been no disclaimer.”
However, NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr would not say whether or not the union had filed a disclaimer. He only would say that it was an internal matter and that the union does not talk about internal matters.
Both sides met for nearly five hours Wednesday night leading into Thursday morning with both sides going back and fourth on different issues. Federal mediator Scot Beckenbaugh was also present for the day’s negotiating sessions and has requested that the two sides reconvene today at 10 a.m.
The fact that the two sides will continue meeting is a relatively positive sign for fans, and both Bettman and Fehr agreed that at least some progress is being made.
“The parties moved closer on some issues,” Fehr said. “There is still a ways to go if an agreement can be reached and we’ll consider where we are in the morning and figure out what we’re going to do next.”
Bettman added: “There has been some progress, but we are still apart on a number of issues. But as long as the process continues I am hopeful.”
Neither side would go further into detail about talks, or make any characterization of where things stand. Reports suggest that two sticking points between the union and the league are player pensions and the salary cap.
The Canadian Press’s Chris Johnston is reporting that the union wants a $65 million cap, but the league only wants a $60 million salary cap. As far as the pension plan is concerned there seems to be misunderstanding regarding what the two sides had to agree to back in the NHL’s December 27 proposal.
Bettman called the issue complicated with many variables.
“There are a number of variables and a number of issues that have to be addressed by people who carry the title of actuary or pension lawyer are pretty numerous and it’s pretty easy to get off track,” he told reporters. “But that’s something we understand is important to the players and if we can get the issues resolved we’re hopeful we can satisfy the players on the issue, but that’s still a work in progress.”
A new collective bargaining agreement must be agreed upon by January 11 to allow for a shortened season to begin by January 19.