The conversation is flowing again between the NHL and NHL Players' Association.
After deputy commissioner Bill Daly held a marathon session with NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr that stretched into the early hours of Sunday morning, he indicated that the sides plan to return to the bargaining table again soon.
"We met on and off for most of the day and covered a lot of ground," Daly told The Canadian Press via email. "We plan to meet again early in the week."
Daly and Fehr got together on Saturday afternoon at an undisclosed location to avoid the glare of the media spotlight and find a way forward in negotiations. It was the first meeting between representatives of the league and union since Oct. 18 and followed a series of informal phone conversations between the men that offered a hint of where things might be headed.
Earlier this week, the NHL made it known that it is willing to see owners assume more of the burden with the "make-whole" aspect of its latest proposal. That provision was put in an Oct. 16 offer to ensure all current contracts would be honoured an important issue for the players through deferred payments over the next two seasons.
However, the NHLPA didn't like that those payments would count against the overall players' share in future revenues.
The sides did move closer together with their most recent offers last month. The NHL proposed a 50-50 split of revenue, down from the current 57-43 division in favour of the players, across the board. The union is willing to see it get to 50-50 over time, but wants it phased in so that current deals are paid out in full.
The NHL has also proposed numerous changes to contract rules, but the NHLPA has so far shown no interest in accepting any of those.
The labour dispute has already seen the league cancel 326 regular-season games through Nov. 30. On Friday, it also called off the Jan. 1 Winter Classic outdoor game at Michigan Stadium, saying it had run out of time to pull the event together.
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