Both Don Fehr and Gary Bettman agreed early Thursday morning: CBA talks are progressing, but there are still considerable issues that need to be worked out before the sides are able to complete a deal that will save what's left of the 2012-13 NHL season.
The sides met for another five hours on Wednesday evening into Thursday morning, working straight through a 12 a.m. union deadline to file a disclaimer of interest that could potentially lead to the dissolution of the NHLPA, antitrust lawsuits against the NHL and the cancellation of the entire season. Fehr refused to discuss the disclaimer possibility when speaking to the media after meetings adjourned, but he implied that the option is still on the table.
Fehr will not say whether disclaimer of interest has been filed. Only that players retain all legal options and that he won't discuss it— Katie Strang (@KatieStrangESPN) January 3, 2013
It's unclear whether or not it would take another vote from the full NHLPA membership to authorize a new filing of a disclaimer of interest. Multiple reports have claimed that a new vote would be needed before the NHLPA's executive board could file the disclaimer, but the logic doesn't necessarily add up:
A disclaimer of interest essentially means that union leadership walks away from their players. Why, legally, would they need their players permission to do so? The previous vote by the players could simply have been a show of good faith to the players by their union that the decision is in their hands -- or, as Tyler Dellow put it, a "moral authority."
Bettman indicated that talks will resume Thursday morning at 10 a.m., and that a federal mediator has been on hand for meetings all week long. The remaining sticking points are the exact salary cap figure for the 2013-14 NHL season and the players' pension plan.
A major issue still to be resolved in NHL talks is the 2013-14 salary cap. League looking for $60M, NHLPA asking for $65M.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) January 3, 2013
All in all, the sides have been cordial and relatively quiet with leaking details to the media over the course of the last week. Several proposals have been traded back and forth over that time, and it's apparent that progress is finally being made -- even if it's slowly -- towards a deal that could save the season.
That the NHLPA didn't file the disclaimer of interest before midnight on Wednesday evening is a positive, and that the sides will resume talks in the morning is even better a sign.