NHL rejects union’s latest proposal, season now in jeopardy

Fitzgerald Cecilio – 4E Sports Reporter

New York, NY, United States (4E Sports) – The NHL has rejected the union’s latest proposal, hurting whatever remaining hopes of reaching a new labor agreement to end the lockout and salvaging the current season.

Aside from that, commissioner Gary Bettman announced that the league also pulled several of its proposals in the past week off the negotiating table, including “Make Whole” payments.

The two sides did not set a schedule for the next round of negotiations. NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr said the union was informed not to expect any meeting before the weekend.

According to multiple sources, union members will seriously discuss a possible decertification or disclaimer of interest.

Sources also added that the decertification issue was discussed on the players’ conference call Thursday morning, and that a vote could come together soon once readdressed.

Negotiating committee member Chris Campoli said decertification has “always been an option.”

“I think it’s the obvious answer,” Campoli said. “Although whether it’s imminent, I don’t know.”

According to Fehr said the NHLPA was notified via voicemail message that its proposal was “not acceptable” after initially saying that the two sides were close to a new deal.

Before talks fell apart, the two sides had reached an agreement regarding pension plans, transition payments and said they had bridged the gap on dollars completely.

But Fehr surprised everyone when he announced that negotiations broke down after the league rejected the union’s proposal.

“It looks like this is not going to be resolved in the immediate future,” Fehr said.

For his part, Bettman hit Fehr for saying that the two sides were close to a deal.

“I find it absolutely incomprehensible he’d do that,” Bettman said.

Bettman, who did not attend Thursday’s session along with the six owners who participated in the week’s discussions, said the NHL requested a “yes-or-no” answer on three vital issues deemed as being of the utmost importance.

Those items are in connection with the five-year contract term limit, the 10-year length of the CBA and the transition rules discussed.

The union responded with a proposal of its own that included: items such as an eight-year CBA with an opt-out for the players in the sixth year; eight-year contract term limits and an agreement on the $300 million transition payment.

The union also proposed an agreement on the pension payment plan derived from the players’ share; and a variance rule that prohibits any contract of seven years or longer from varying more than 25 percent from the lowest- to highest-paid year.

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