Federal mediator Scot Beckenbaugh met separately with representatives of the NHL and the players union on Friday in New York, but his efforts toward what the NHL Players' Assn. described as “shuttle mediation” did not immediately lead to a joint negotiating session.
Talks between the league and the union, which seemed to be making headway after Commissioner Gary Bettman issued a deadline of Jan. 12 for training camps to open and Jan. 19 for a 48-game schedule to start, hit some snags on Thursday over pensions and the league’s attempt to change language regarding teams’ reporting of hockey-related revenues.
According to the New York Post, Bettman angered players who participated in Thursday’s negotiations by saying several general managers regretted signing players to big contracts and would welcome the chance to take their teams apart in order to get down to the league’s proposed salary cap figure of $60 million for the 2013-14 season. Bettman would not identify those general managers. Among the players who took part in the talks on Thursday and Friday were Kings forward Kevin Westgarth and former Kings and Ducks forward George Parros, according to the NHLPA.
The Winnipeg Free Press, quoting an anonymous NHL team governor, said Bettman is prepared to cancel the season on Thursday if an agreement isn’t reached or doesn’t appear imminent.
The NHLPA on Thursday began the 48-hour process of polling members for authorization to file a disclaimer of interest, which could lead to dissolution of the union and allow individual players to file antitrust lawsuits against the NHL.
Unions representing NFL and NBA players took that step in their labor disputes in 2011 but those disputes were resolved and the respective unions were reformed before lawsuits could proceed far in the legal system.