NEW YORK, N.Y. – For now, the NHL’s labour dispute lies in the hands of Scot L. Beckenbaugh.
The U.S. federal mediator gathered with a small group from the league and NHL Players’ Association on Saturday afternoon after spending the previous day shuttling between the sides for almost 13 hours.
Beckenbaugh became awfully familiar with three-block walk between the league office and NHLPA’s hotel, where the Saturday afternoon group session was held. It was the first time the parties were in the same room with one another since a lengthy bargaining session that started on Wednesday night and stretched into Thursday morning.
With progress being made at that time, the NHLPA elected not to declare a “disclaimer of interest” prior to a self-imposed deadline just before midnight on Wednesday.
However, a second vote of players that wraps up Saturday at 6 p.m. ET was started which would restore the NHLPA’s executive board’s ability to disclaim. If it passes, the 30-member committee would have the authority to dissolve the union, which would open the door for anti-trust lawsuits and bring even more uncertainty to the bargaining process.
The NHL and NHLPA are seeking to reach an agreement prior to Jan. 11 to salvage a shortened 48-game season.
The sides have moved closer to one another with a series of proposals since Dec. 27, but still need to find agreement on the salary cap for next season, the length of player contracts, salary variance, the length of the CBA and pension plan, among other things.
Beckenbaugh was also involved in the NHL’s labour negotiations during the 2004-05 lockout, having met with the sides in February just before the season was cancelled. He is the deputy director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.
The lockout is set to enter its 16th week on Sunday.