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CBA talks resume with optimistic vibe

5

January

For what it's worth, a source close to negotiations between the league and Players' Association on a new collective bargaining agreement said talks have made "progress" Saturday, but there are so many details to hash out, it is difficult to believe an agreement will happen immediately.

On the other hand, with face-to-face negotiations in New York going since 1:30 p.m., anything can happen. "A good sign," the person said.

Time is of the essence as the league wants games played by Jan. 19, though there is probably some wiggle room there. That means a signed CBA must be in hand by about Jan. 12. It also seems players again will give the union the authority to use a disclaimer of interest. That would dissolve the union and give players the ability to sue the league on anti-trust grounds.

If an agreement is reached, credit mediator Scot Beckenbaugh, who spent 12 hours Friday shuttling between the NHL offices and the hotel where the union brass is staying. Beckenbaugh continued his work Saturday morning before the sides got together.

The New York Post reported the league might be willing to come off the $60 million it has proposed for the 2013-14 salary cap, down from $70.2 million this season. The union has proposed $65 million, so even if the league meets the union halfway, consider it progress.

It was unclear if the complex pension issue has been settled as there were conflicting media reports. And there have been no reports that the sides have come together on contract lengths. The league wants six-year maximum deals, though teams would be able to sign their own free agents for seven years. The union has proposed eight-year maximum deals, but certainly would like no limits at all. The league also changed its proposal on year-to-year salary variance within contracts,  going from five percent to 30 percent, though Canadian Broadcasting reported the lowest salary cannot be less than 60 percent of the highest 

The sides seem to agree that a new CBA will be 10 years. Players long ago agreed to reduce their share of revenues to 50 percent from last season's 57 percent. And a $300 million make-whole provision to compensate players, at least partially, for the devaluation of their contracts, seems solid. Revenue sharing also has been put to bed.

[Last modified: Saturday, January 5, 2013 5:12pm]

    

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