NHL Lockout: NHLPA Presents Counter-Proposal, Bettman Confirms Jan 11 Deadline

Bruce Bennett

Talks ended cordially Monday as the players responded formally to the league's latest 300+ page offer. Bettman confirmed January 11th as the deadline.

A short session of official CBA bargaining between the NHL and NHLPA wrapped late this afternoon at the league offices in New York. The players provided an official counter-proposal to the league's 300+ page comprehensive proposal presented earlier this week.

Gary Bettman refused to characterize the players' response and few, if any, details of the proposal have leaked at this hour. The players' response to the large document presented by the league was far shorter - "low double digits" in page numbers according to Steve Fehr.

Players were expected to take issue with the owners' proposed $60M cap in 2013-2014 which would create a large escrow percentage. Media sources reported that the players prefer something more like a $67M cap in year two. Given the fact that several big market teams, already close to $60 million in cap fro 2013-14, don't like the idea then it's believed the actual cap for next year will be likely around $65 million.

Other issues expected to be hurdles are contract length (now proposed by the NHL at six years for UFA's, seven ears for players already with the signing team) and CBA length, steadfastly maintained by the league at 10 years with a mutual opt-out at 8. Pensions issues may also resurface.

Bettman told media Monday afternoon that the league would work late into the night to understand the NHLPA's latest, and expected to contact the PA regarding further talks by noon tomorrow - So you won't miss anything during the traditional late Jan-1-snooze.

Perhaps the most substantive news from the tight-lipped day is Bettman's specific mention of January 11th as the "point of no return," as Chris Botta put it.

"What we've said is we need to drop the puck by Jan. 19 if we're going to play a 48-game season," Gary Bettman told the media about the drop dead date for the season. The Jan. 11 deadline is to give teams enough time for a training camp to get a 48-game season underway.

11 days. We'll know something, either way, in 11 days.

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