The two sides angled to meet throughout the day, and it finally kicked off a little after 5 pm EST. The meetings happened without NHL commissioner Gary Bettman according to John Shannon of Sportsnet.ca. The owners that attended Wednesday night's session also were not a part of Thursday's negotiations.
Those details were not appreciated by the NHLPA according to Nick Cotsonika of Yahoo! Sports. The writer reports that the union had something significant to say, and were not pleased that Bettman was not in attendance.
The session ended after just one hour, with Bob Daly and Bill Batterman leaving the meeting. On the union side, leader Donald Fehr and a group of players were in attendance.
The owners are reportedly not pleased with Fehr for his actions. Denver Post hockey columnist Adrian Dater reports that owners are furious with Fehr for stalling, his mediation ploys, and one from the management side even went as far as calling the head of the union a "suicide bomber" to negotiations.
Multiple reports indicated that the NHLPA asked for federal mediation to return, to which the league promptly said no.
Another long day of talks has produced more optimism in the NHL lockout. More than a dozen players and Six owners met for the second straight day in New York City yesterday. The two sides exchanged proposals and are expected to meet again today.
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly had a brief statement for the media shortly after the talks adjourned just after 1:00 AM.
He described the talks as "good, candid dialogue" but mentioned that critical issues remain unresolved between the two parties. He stated that he expected those issues to be addressed during Thursday's negotiations.
The league's offer Wednesday night offered a raise in money devoted to the 'make-whole' provision. The number in the latest offer jumped to $300 million, up from $211 million in the league's previous offer. The players had previously asked for $389 million, making the owners' latest offer an exact middle ground between the previous offer and the players' demands. However, of that proposed $300 million only $250 million would go towards a 'make-whole' provision with the remaining $50 million going towards pension funding that would not come out of the players' share.
The proposal submitted was for a 10-year term for the next CBA with an opt-out clause after eight years. The rules governing unrestricted free agency and salary arbitration would remain unchanged from last season. The league did not budge on its request for a five-year term limit on player contracts and held firm to a maximum year-to-year salary variance of five per cent.
The league's offer did, however, offer an exception on contract lengths for the re-signing of free agents. Teams would be allowed to re-sign their own free agents to contracts up to seven years in duration.
There were moments where tensions ran a little high and talks almost broke off. Ryan Miller was involved in one of those moments according to a story from Damien Cox in the Toront Star:
The conversation went something like this.
"Let's leave," said Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, turning to NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly.
"It's up to you," replied Daly.
At that point during the talks between the NHL and NHL Players Association on Wednesday, a day that began as a continuation of the momentum generated on Tuesday, both sides were at the precipice, and the 2012-13 season was in jeopardy. Earlier, Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller had angrily vented when the owners said they were disappointed with the players responses to an earlier offer and threatened to pull everything off the table.
But with Jacobs poised to abandon the talks, other owners spoke up, and then both sides dramatically backed away from the precipice. When talks ended close to 1 a.m. Thursday morning after more than eight hours of talks without NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and union executive director Don Fehr, it certainly seemed from the outside they were getting closer and closer to a deal to end this ugly lockout.
A tight-lipped Gary Bettman briefly addressed the media on earlier in the afternoon as the league and the union prepared for another bargaining session to come up with a collective bargaining agreement and save the 2012-13 season.
"We are pleased with the process that is ongoing and out of respect for the process, I'm not going to take any questions," the NHL commissioner told reporters.
The NHLPA will meet internally on Thursday morning with both sides expected to resume talks at some point later in the day.
According to sources, the owners discussed a possible season that would span 50-plus games. There had been talk of a 60-game schedule in the event of a labour settlement, but the feeling among the group was that it would be too ambitious at this stage.