With the clock ticking and after two days of questions and answers about the NHL’s latest offer, the players’ association is holding an internal meeting to discuss the latest offer from the league.

The NHLPA said there would be no further meetings with the league Sunday, but the union is planning to meet with the league Monday. They will provide a further update “in the morning.”

The players’ association must decide if it is ready to commence bargaining again, for what could be the last chance to save the hockey season.

The two sides engaged in a series of information sessions on Saturday. They discussed the 300-page proposal that was presented to the union on Thursday. The sessions, which were conducted via conference call and in face-to-face meetings in New York, wrapped up Sunday afternoon.

There’s no guarantee that a new round of bargaining will begin. If the players’ association decides to start formal bargaining, talks may begin as early Monday.

There have been no negotiations between the two sides since they met on Dec. 13 with a federal mediator.

League commissioner Gary Bettman has said that if there’s any hope to salvage the season, a deal needs to be reached by Jan. 11 and training camp must begin the next day. Games must start on Jan. 19 to accommodate a 48-game schedule.

CTV’s Melanie Nagy described the mood surrounding the talks in New York as “serious, right from the beginning,” with both sides realizing what’s at stake.

“Every day that there’s not a deal it’s increasing the risk of not having a season. So the tone is serious,” said Nagy.

Nagy said some have described the latest proposal as having “some movement.”

“Some people are saying that that’s a good sign, perhaps the ice is breaking,” she said.

Key points from the NHL’s latest offer include:

  • A 50-50 split between clubs and players of hockey-related revenue (HRR)
  • Contract lengths to be capped at a maximum of six years (up from the previous offer of five years)
  • No contractual “roll backs” of player’s salaries
  • US$300 million in deferred transition payments to the players, something the league had taken off the table when talks broke down on Dec. 6.

More highlights of the propsal on TSN.ca

The offer also calls for a six-year term limit on free-agent deals -- up from five -- and will allow teams to re-sign their own players for up to seven years.

Also included is a provision that salary can vary by 10 per cent from year to year during the course of a deal. The league’s previous offer proposed a five per cent difference.

The latest proposal is for 10 years, running through the 2021-22 season. Both sides will have the right to opt out after eight years.

The last time bargaining sessions involving only the NHL and the union were held was on Dec. 6. Those talks abruptly ended after the players’ association offered a counterproposal to the league’s previous offer.

The league said that offer was conditional on the union accepting three elements without further bargaining.

The NHL then pulled all existing offers off the table. The following week, two days of sessions with mediators ended without progress.

The NHL has been no stranger to labour disruptions.

In 2004-2005, the NHL became the only professional sports league in North America to cancel a season due to a labour dispute. A 48-game season was played in 1995 after a lockout dragged into January.

There is still a possibility that the courts may eventually settle the current lockout if the two sides fail to reach a deal on their own.

Earlier in December, the NHL filed a class-action suit in U.S. District Court in New York in an attempt to show that its lockout is legal.

The league separately filed an unfair labour practice charge with the National labour Relations Board, arguing bad-faith bargaining by the union.

The league’s moves were prompted because the players’ association made progress toward potentially filing a “disclaimer of interest,” which would dissolve the union and make it a trade association. This would allow players to file antitrust lawsuits against the NHL.

Union members voted to give their board the power to file the disclaimer by Wednesday. If that deadline passes, another vote could be held to authorize a later filing.

With files from The Associated Press