The NHL lockout appears to be close to ending as the NHL and NHL Players Association moved closer on several of the most important points on a new contract over the weekend.
After a setback at the end of the week as the sides failed to meet for two days, a federal mediator brought them together on Saturday as the league and players hashed out several of the most important points of a new CBA.
One of the previous sticking points, the amount of a second year of the salary cap, saw the NHL budge from its proposed $62.5 million number, ESPN reported.
The development builds on progress made earlier this week, when the NHL and NHLPA swapped proposals.
It is also set against a rapidly closing deadline. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has said that January 11 is the last date an agreement can be reached to end the NHL lockout and save at least some semblance of a season.
If somehow the sides can’t come together, the NHLPA has some leverage in NHL lockout negotiations. Players voted on the right to file a disclaimer of interest — which gives them the option to dissolve the union and could lead to antitrust lawsuits against the NHL — and it was expected to pass by a wide margin.
Despite the actions by the players, most reporters following negotiations believe that the option won’t be used and the NHL lockout will be over soon.
Vet agent: deal as good as done, league now taking it to final hour, grabbing what’s left to take off table.
— Kevin Paul Dupont (@GlobeKPD) January 6, 2013
Though optimism persisted from many NHL reporters who have been embedded in New York City to follow negotiations, others warned that the fragile process could still be set off. There have been several points when it looked like the sides were ready to come together and end the NHL lockout, but all were derailed.
3 things to remember: 1. Until whole deal is done, none of it is done. 2. I’m cautiously, VERY cautiously, optimistic. 3. Re-read No. 1.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) January 5, 2013
If a deal is done soon, as many sources have now reported, the NHL lockout could give way to a 48- or 50-game schedule.