The Montreal Canadiens and restricted free agent defenceman P.K. Subban ventured into uncharted territory in contract negotiations on Friday morning, as both sides met in Toronto for their scheduled salary arbitration hearing.
In a four-hour closed door meeting, appointed arbitrator Elizabeth Neumeier heard both sides on their respective cases for the salary numbers and will announce the award within 48 hours.
"It's been an educational process for me," Subban told reporters after the meeting without revealing its details. "I will move on from today and get ready for the season. We have to live with those decisions."
Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin declined to talk to reporters as he walked out of the meeting.
According to reports, the Canadiens submitted their arbitration brief this week with a salary of $5.25 million on a one-year contract, while Subban - represented by agent Don Meehan of Newport Sports - is asking for $8.5 million. The arbitrator can choose either of the bids or set the one-year salary somewhere in between.
A negotiated settlement between Subban and the Canadiens can still occur at any time before the arbitration ruling is handed down. Otherwise, the arbitration award is binding once it's announced.
Subban is eligible to become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights again next summer and is two years away from becoming an unrestricted free agent. However, both sides will be allowed to negotiate a new deal after January 1.
Subban, who signed a two-year deal worth an average annual value of $2.875 million prior to the 2012-2013 season, scored 10 goals and added 43 assists in 82 games with the Canadiens in 2013-14.
He also added five goals and 14 points in 17 playoff games and was part of the Canadian men's Olympic team that won gold in Sochi in February.
Subban was awarded the 2013 Norris Trophy as the NHL's top defenceman after notching 11 goals and 27 assists in 42 games.
Drafted in the second round (43rd overall) in 2007, Subban has scored 42 goals and 167 assists in 284 career games.