Negotiations to end the NHL’s 108-day labor dispute is back in the hands of the players.
Following a full day of small-group negotiations on Tuesday, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman presented union chief Don Fehr with a counter-proposal he hopes will get the NHL back on the ice in time to salvage a season of at least 48 games.
“We’re clearly not done,” Bettman told reporters in New York Tuesday night.
Details of the league’s counter-proposal were not immediately available but Bettman said concessions were made by the league and that he is “glad to see” negotiating on a continual basis.
Fehr told reporters that the NHL made a “comprehensive response to what we gave them [Monday]” and that he would review Tueday’s new proposal with his executive committee and get back to the league on Wednesday.
The NHL players have until the end of Wednesday to file a disclaimer of interest, but with negotiations apparently moving toward a resolution they may allow that deadline to pass without filing.
Bettman told reporters the players’ disclaimer of interest deadline is “not something we’re focused on.”
Bettman has stated Jan. 11 as the NHL’s own fiscal cliff and said he would accept no less than a 48-game season beginning no later than Jan. 19. The league could salvage a 50-plus game season if they can come to an agreement by the end of this week.
Meanwhile, players reportedly have asked that at least one exhibition game be included in the seven-day training camp that would immediately follow an agreement.
If a settlement is reached this week the Capitals will be keeping a close eye on Nicklas Backstrom, who reportedly suffered a neck injury while playing for Moscow Dynamo of the KHL and has sat out the past two games.