NEW YORK -- The best that can be said about CBA negotiations resuming today in Manhattan is that the union didnt throw a grenade into the discussions.
Executive director Donald Fehr backed off from issuing a disclaimer of interest when midnight struck and instead plowed through the negotiations till 1 a.m.
Thats a positive sign in the 110-day NHL lockout because the disclaimer likely would have resulted in the breaking off of negotiations.
The word 'disclaimer' has yet to be uttered to us by the players' association, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. It's not that it gets filed anywhere with a court or the NLRB. When you disclaim interest as a union, you notify the other side. We have not been notified, and it's never been discussed, so there has been no disclaimer.
One league source said of today's session, "A couple owners are cautiously optimistic."
Fehr and Bettman agreed both sides moved closer on some issues, but others, such as pensions and the salary cap for 2013-14 remain thorny.
There is still a ways to go if an agreement can be reached, Fehr said. We'll consider where we are in the morning and we'll figure out what to do next.
The funding of player pensions remains a key to the players and an obstacle to the finish line for the owners, according to a source.
Its all about who assumes liability and which side makes up the difference in pension monies if the league revenues arent adequate enough. In the last CBA, teams funded of the pension.
The pension plan is a very complicated issue, Bettman said. The number of variables and the number of issues that have to be addressed by people who carry the title actuary or pension lawyer are pretty numerous and it's pretty easy to get off track.
That is something we understand is important to the players.
The league has agreed to a 70.2 million salary cap for a shortened season beginning Jan. 19, but for next year, it wants to scale back to 60 million.
The union is insisting upon at least 65 million for next year. But that would also raise the cap floor to 49 million which some small market owners object to.
Mediator Scot Beckenbaugh will supervise todays session, as he did on Wednesday.