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NHL, union exchange more offers but no closer to new labor deal

NEW YORK — The NHL's collective bargaining talks resumed Wednesday with a sense of urgency and a flurry of activity, but one thing remained unchanged: the unmistakable gap between the sides.

With Saturday's midnight deadline for a lockout looming, players association executive director Donald Fehr and commissioner Gary Bettman each offered new proposals that highlighted the differing views still held by players and owners on core economic issues.

The current labor deal expires at midnight Saturday; Bettman says the owners will lock out the players if a new deal isn't in place by then.

The first formal session of bargaining between the sides since Aug. 31 kicked off with the union presenting a proposal with revenue-sharing changes from its previous offer.

"We did not make a proposal which mirrored the owners' proposal," Fehr said. "We did not say, 'Let's go back to when we didn't have a salary cap.' We said, 'Look, there is a meaningful disparity in revenue between the teams, and in recognition of that, there is a way we think we can fix the system so we don't end up in the same problem all over again.'

"Our proposal was made with the same principles that we have always had in mind, and those are that we didn't see any reason — given the seven years of record revenue growth and enormous concessions the players made the last time (in labor talks) — to have an absolute reduction in player salaries. They are prepared to have their share fall over time as revenues grow, and that we hope to partner with the large-revenue teams in terms of providing whatever assistance to franchises may be called for generally under revenue sharing."

Bettman said the offer represented "very little movement, if any," which prompted him to draft a new proposal on the fly with Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs and Flames owner Murray Edwards.

The proposal would see players receive more hockey-related revenue than in the previous two proposals it had offered and also took an important step by using the current definition of hockey-related revenue. It was handed back to the union with a shelf life: If it doesn't lead to a deal before the weekend, it will be taken off the table, Bettman said.

"(This proposal) had meaningful movement in it, and it was an attempt to engage the union, finally, in trying to make a deal," said Bettman.

However, Fehr characterized the change differently. He said the league had moved from asking for an "extraordinarily large" amount of money back to a "very big" amount.

The union later held meetings at a hotel with about 300 players who went to New York for the sessions. Today, the board of governors will convene with Bettman while the union holds a second day of discussions with the players.

Lightning tv schedule: If there are no lockout-related changes, the Lightning will get plenty of time on local television this season. Sun Sports announced it will telecast 70 games, and Ch. 44 will show two: Feb. 23 at Carolina and the season-ending game April 13 at Washington. Including seven games to be show nationally on the NBC Sports Network and three on the NHL Network (Feb. 28 game at Pittsburgh overlaps with the Sun Sports schedule), 81 of 82 regular-season games are scheduled to be on television. The exception is the Dec. 31 game at Winnipeg. To view the Sun Sports schedule, go to tampabay.com/blogs/lightning.

Times staff writer Damian Cristodero contributed to this report.

NHL, union exchange more offers but no closer to new labor deal 09/12/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 10:28pm]
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