NEW YORK – The NHL made a new offer to the players’ association, hoping to spark talks toward ending the long lockout and saving the hockey season.
Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said Friday the league presented its proposal Thursday and was waiting for a response. The sides haven’t met in person since a second round of talks with a federal mediator broke down Dec. 13.
The lockout has reached its 104th day, and the NHL said it doesn’t want a season of less than 48 games. That means a deal would need to be reached by mid-January.
A person familiar with key points of the offer told the Associated Press that the league proposed raising the limit of individual free-agent contracts to six years from five – seven years if a team re-signs its own player; raising the salary variance from one year to another to 10 percent, up from 5 percent; and one compliance buyout for the 2013-14 season that wouldn’t count toward a team’s salary cap but would be included in the overall players’ share of income.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because details of the new offer were not being discussed publicly.
The NHL maintained the deferred payment amount of $300 million it offered in its previous proposal, an increase from an earlier offer of $211 million. The initial $300 million offer was pulled off the table after negotiations broke off earlier this month.
The latest proposal is for 10 years, running through the 2021-22 season, with both sides having the right to opt out after eight years.
A conference call with the players’ association’s negotiating committee and its executive board was scheduled for Friday afternoon and was expected to last several hours.
The lockout has reached a critical stage, threatening to shut down a season for the second time in eight years. All games through Jan. 14, plus the Winter Classic and the All-Star game, already have been called off. The next round of cuts could claim the entire schedule.
Negotiations have been at a standstill since talks ended Dec. 6.