Friday, April 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

NHL union forgoes dissolution for now as talks expected to resume Thursday

NEW YORK — Negotiations to end the NHL lockout faced a critical tipping point Wednesday as the sides exchanged proposals again and the players' self-imposed deadline to dissolve their union passed with no action apparently being taken.

The union membership voted last month to authorize the leadership to disclaim interest, but only until midnight Wednesday. A disclaimer of interest would effectively dissolve the union and allow individual players to file antitrust suits against the NHL for continuing the lockout, which reaches its 110th day Thursday.

After the talks broke up around 1 a.m. Thursday, union executive director Donald Fehr would not say whether the union had filed to disclaim interest. It was an internal matter, he said. But media reports said a filing had not occurred.

Even if the union declined to disclaim interest Wednesday, the leadership could still do so at a later date, but only if the rank and file authorized it in another vote. The leadership will ask players for authorization again if talks don't soon produce a deal, ESPN reported.

Complicating talks Wednesday was a hitch over the players' pension fund, which is of great importance to the union. The union has proposed that players finance the pension plan but owners would be responsible for covering any potential shortfalls. The owners appeared to be balking at assuming that risk.

Under the collective bargaining agreement that expired in September, 75 percent of the pension fund was financed by the owners and 25 percent by the players.

The pension plan is a very complicated issue, "but that is something we understand is important to the players," commissioner Gary Bettman said after talks ended early Thursday.

The offers made by the union and then the league Wednesday were the fourth and fifth exchanged since Dec. 27, when the NHL extended a proposal that jump-started the current round of talks.

Fehr said the sides moved closer but a lot of work remained to be done. "The differences relate to the core economic issues," he said. They include the salary cap for the 2013-14 season. The league wants it at $60 million, the players in the $65 million-$67 million range. This season's cap is $70.2 million.

A federal mediator was brought back into the talks this week at the agreement of both sides, Bettman said. The mediator wanted the sides to reconvene at 10 a.m. Thursday, he said.

"As long as the process continues, I am hopeful," Bettman said.

Fehr said the union expected to continue bargaining. The group of players who have attended the talks this week include the Lightning's Marty St. Louis.

Bettman has said he wants the labor situation settled by Jan. 11 so a 48-game schedule could begin no later than Jan. 19.

That negotiations for a new agreement were reignited last week did not come as a complete shock to Lightning left wing Ryan Malone, who believes a stout players association forced owners to move some of their positions closer to those of the players.

"They probably thought we were going to cave in and they would get everything," Malone said after Wednesday's skate at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon. "Now they're like, 'Maybe we can get what we can get and move on.' "

Times staff writer Damian Cristodero contributed to this report.

Comments
NHL makes right call in not suspending Lightning’s Nikita Kucherov

NHL makes right call in not suspending Lightning’s Nikita Kucherov

The NHL got it right.Nikita Kucherov, the Lightning's top scorer and best player so far in these playoffs, will play Saturday's Game 5 against New Jersey. He's not going to be suspended for his vicious hit on a Devils player in Tampa Bay's Game 4 vic...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Lightning’s Hedman a Norris finalist again

Lightning’s Hedman a Norris finalist again

The Lightning's Victor Hedman is a finalist for the second consecutive year for the Norris Trophy, given to the top defenseman in the league. The other two finalists are Drew Doughty of the Kings and P.K. Subban of the Predators, it was announced Thu...
Published: 04/19/18
Turns out, Lightning’s Andrei Vasilevskiy is ready for the playoffs

Turns out, Lightning’s Andrei Vasilevskiy is ready for the playoffs

TAMPA — The second period was not even four minutes old Wednesday night when Devils right wing Patrick Maroon skated all alone toward Andrei Vasilevskiy. It was a moment that could turn a game and even a series.A goal and the score would be tie...
Published: 04/19/18
Shaquem Griffin: ‘Lightning is going to win the Stanley Cup’

Shaquem Griffin: ‘Lightning is going to win the Stanley Cup’

Former UCF and Lakewood High standout Shaquem Griffin understandably has been focused on the NFL draft next week in Arlington, Tex., where he is projected as a potential second-day pick.But the Lightning's playoff run  hasn't escaped his attenti...
Published: 04/19/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Nikita Kucherov drives Lightning past Devils

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Nikita Kucherov drives Lightning past Devils

Nikita Kucherov scores two goals and delivers some big hits as the Lightning beats the Devils, 3-1, in a physical Game 4 that pushes Tampa Bay to within one win of clinching the series.Meanwhile, the Rays beat the Rangers to as Jake Faria pitche...
Published: 04/19/18
Lightning holds off Devils and David Puddy

Lightning holds off Devils and David Puddy

NEWARK, N.J. — The Devils pulled out all the stops for Wednesday's Game 4 of their Stanley Cup quarter final series with the Lightning by inviting David Puddy at the Prudential Center.For those who do not know who he is, Puddy was Elaine's...
Published: 04/19/18
Lightning stands up to Devils, pushes its way to 3-1 series lead

Lightning stands up to Devils, pushes its way to 3-1 series lead

NEWARK, N.J. — Bachman-Turner Overdrive's Taking Care of Business shook the walls of the Lightning locker room not long after it dispatched the Devils in Wednesday's Game 4 of their first-round playoff series.The 3-1 win was sparked by Nikita K...
Published: 04/18/18
Roger Mooney’s takeaways from Lightning-Devils Game 4

Roger Mooney’s takeaways from Lightning-Devils Game 4

I guess the lesson here is never believe a hockey player when he says what happens in a scrum at the end of a playoff game doesn't carry over into the next game. It sure looks like the Lightning and Devils won't be vacationing together this summer.Th...
Published: 04/18/18
Lightning-Devils: How Tampa Bay worked its way to a 3-1 series lead

Lightning-Devils: How Tampa Bay worked its way to a 3-1 series lead

Times columnist Tom Jones gives his thoughts while watching the broadcast of Game 4 of the series between the Lightning and Devils:Hard work beats everythingWe watch the Lightning all season long and marvel at its skill. Nikita Kucherov, Steven ...
Published: 04/18/18
Restraint? Ha. Lightning-Devils mix it up in early going of Game 4

Restraint? Ha. Lightning-Devils mix it up in early going of Game 4

NEWARK, N.J. — Both sides were in agreement Tuesday that the shenanigans during the final minute of Monday's Game 3 would not carry over to Game 4."I think the emotion of a game in a series carries over, (but) what happened at end I don't think...
Published: 04/18/18