Happy New Year for NHL?

Happy New Year for NHL?
December 31, 2012, 7:30 pm
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Gary Bettman with an update on the lockout

While the rest of Times Square is counting down the final hours of 2012, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and his negotiating team will be ringing in the New Year by poring over a counter proposal by the NHL Players’ Association.

Bettman’s reaction to that counter proposal will determine whether this will be a Happy 2013 for hockey fans across North America.

At about 2 p.m. on Monday the NHLPA, represented by players Ron Hainsey, Chris Campoli, Marty St. Louis, Jamal Mayers, Rick DiPietro and Shane Doan, presented a counter-proposal that special counsel Steve Fehr described to be in the “low double digits” in page content.

The NHL’s latest offer, presented on Thursday night, contained 288 pages. The fact the players’ counter was not hundreds of pages in length suggests there are more tweaks to the owners’ proposal than a complete re-write.  

Bettman emerged from the three-hour meeting with players to tell members of the media that he would not characterize the state of the negotiations and announced the two sides would meet again on Tuesday by noon.

Bettman emphasized that a Jan. 11 deadline for an agreement is in place and that a shortened season could begin no later than Jan. 19 and contain no fewer than 48 games.

After moving at a snail’s pace through the first three months, negotiations between the two sides have picked up steam in the past four days and could result in an agreement by the end of this week, paving the way for training camps to begin as early as this weekend or early next week.