NEW YORK -- The NHL and the union were back at the bargaining table Tuesday and seemed determined to work toward a deal to save the hockey season.
A full day of talks was planned for Tuesday, one day after negotiations resumed following nearly three weeks apart. On Monday, the players’ association presented a counterproposal to an offer made by the league late last week. The NHL spent Monday night reviewing the document, then got together again with the union Tuesday.
Small groups from each side met and conferred by conference calls all afternoon about provisions of a potential collective bargaining agreement. A full meeting of the negotiating teams wasn’t expected at the league office before 6:30 or 7 p.m. EST, a union spokesman said. The NHL then requested that the meeting be pushed back to 9 p.m.
What is clear is that time has become a real factor.
"We’ve said we need to drop the puck by Jan. 19 if we’re going to play a 48-game season," Commissioner Gary Bettman said. "We don’t think it makes sense to play a season any shorter than that."
That leaves a little less than two weeks to reach an agreement and hold one week of training camp before starting the season. All games through Jan. 14 have been canceled, claiming more than 50 percent of the original schedule.
The NHL is the only North American professional sports league to cancel a season because of a labor dispute, losing
The NHL was supposed to be celebrating its annual outdoor Winter Classic between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday -- the 108th day of the lockout -- at Michigan Stadium. But that game was canceled long ago along with the All-Star game.
Monday’s talks marked the first time the NHL and union met in person since Dec. 13. Bettman says a deal must be reached by Jan. 11 so the season can begin eight days later.