MANHATTAN – Gridlock ensnared midtown Manhattan as one of the world's largest city prepared for the ball to drop on 2013. In midst of the madness was perhaps a step to end the gridlock consuming the National Hockey League.
Three days after receiving a detailed new offer from Gary Bettman and the league, Donald Fehr and the Players' Association responded Monday afternoon with a "comprehensive" proposal of their own.
A morsel of progress could be gleaned from the league's response.
Rather than dismiss the latest offering outright - as had been the case to much fanfare in October - or deliver a blistering rebuke - as in the now infamous press conference earlier this month - Bettman said his side would take Monday evening to study the most recent proposal before contacting Fehr and the players on Tuesday morning.
"Their response was a comprehensive one, dealing with the full slate of issues that we raised and proposals that we put forth," said Bettman, amidst a horde of passersby eager to ring in the New Year. "We're in the process of reviewing their response."
In stark contrast to past public comments - generally fiery throughout this process - Bettman was composed and at ease in his remarks, but declined to label the most recent set of face-to-face meetings as "progress". "I think it would be premature for me to characterize it and not particularly helpful to the process," he said of the talks. "We really need to spend the time to go through it."
Fehr, meanwhile, confirmed that the players had in fact moved off their last offer, but like his counterpart, refused to offer details of any such alterations.
In its most recent proposal to the players - delivered on Thursday evening - the league offered a one-time compliance buyout, an adjustment in annual salary variance - from 5% to 10% - and slight movement on player contract length - from five years to six years. The offer also insisted upon an immediate 50/50 percentage share of hockey-related revenue, along with a reduction in the salary cap to $60 million in 2013-2014.
Read the highlights of the new proposal here.
Additionally critical was the required avenue for achieving a 48-game season, a drop-dead date of January 19th - confirmed by Bettman - which would thus require a deal at least seven days earlier for the inclusion of a hasty one-week training camp.
The two sides will reconnect Tuesday morning and expect to meet later in the day.