NHL, players return to talks but deal remains elusive

Tue Jan 1, 2013 11:32pm EST
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(Reuters) - The National Hockey League (NHL) and locked out players returned to the negotiating table on Tuesday but failed to produce a new labor deal with the deadline to salvage a shortened season fast approaching.

NHL officials, who spent New Year's Eve poring over the NHL Players Association's (NHLPA) counter proposal, were still digesting the offer on Tuesday, pushing back the start of a full bargaining session until 9 pm EST.

When the two sides did finally come together the meeting lasted less than an hour, wrapping up shortly after the league presented the union with a response to their previous proposal.

"We met with the owners committee and they did make a comprehensive response to what we gave them yesterday," NHLPA chief Donald Fehr told reporters outside the league's New York offices.

"Now what we have to do is go through the document, make some sense out of it, compare it and see what the appropriate thing do next is.

"We're going to start tonight, we'll continue in the morning and we'll be in touch with them in the morning."

With more than half the season already wiped out, and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman having set a January 19 deadline for the puck to drop on a shortened 48-game schedule, the pace of negotiations have picked up.

Contributing to the sense of urgency is a threat by the NHLPA to file a "disclaimer of interest" that would allow the union to dissolve and free individual players to file anti-trust lawsuits against the league.

The NHLPA board has until midnight on Wednesday to make a decision on whether to file the disclaimer.   Continued...