The prospect of the NHL salvaging a truncated season has reached a critical stage.
Representatives from the NHL and the players’ union are scheduled to meet at a private location in New York again on Wednesday after spending more than seven hours at the bargaining table on Tuesday, ending their session at 10:15 p.m.
Both sides have stayed away from characterizing the negotiations, saying they will wait until they conclude their talks to provide an update.
“With meetings scheduled to resume Wednesday, the league will not characterize the substance or detail of the discussions until their conclusion,” deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement late Tuesday night.
“I’m not going to comment on signs; I’m not going to prognosticate, I’m not going to predict,” NHLPA executive director Don Fehr said before Tuesday’s session. “It’s not something which in my experience is a productive thing to do. We’ll just wait.”
Meanwhile a season of hockey hangs in the balance. After canceling the Winter Classic on Friday there are fears that if this week’s negotiations are not productive the NHL would be in danger of losing an entire season for the second time in eight years.
The key issue between the two sides remains the “make whole” provision offered by the owners in their Oct. 16 proposal. If the owners agree to pay in full the current contracts mutually agreed upon with their players in the form of deferred payments it could lead the way toward solving some of the other sticking points between the two sides.
Those sticking points include the maximum length of player contracts, rookie contracts, and at what point players can be eligible for arbitration, restricted free agency and unrestricted free agency.