NHL and Players Union Exchange Latest Labor Proposals
New York, NY
Three days before the league imposes a lockout, the NHL and the players union met and exchanged proposals in a last-ditch effort to reach a collective bargaining agreement and avoid a labor impasse.
During the meeting, both sides exchanged overhauled versions of their earlier proposals, especially with regards to economic issues that have separated both sides in earlier negotiations.
Led by executive director Donald Fehr, the NHL Players Association made its presentation in the morning, but was quickly dismissed by commissioner Gary Bettman after seeing that it wasn't much different than earlier offers.
Bettman then had a caucus with Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs and Murray Edwards of the Calgary Flames before handing to the players' association a new NHL offer with a shelf life on it.
No further meetings were scheduled while the two sides study their respective proposals.
"Their proposal was really not much different, except around the edges, from the last proposal they made, which we had indicated was not acceptable," Bettman said.
"We caucused and we decided, that in hopes of moving negotiations along before the weekend, that we would make yet another proposal, which we did. It had meaningful movement in it and it was an attempt to engage the union finally in trying to make a deal," he added.
An ESPN.com source said the league's counterproposal was six years in length and starts players at 49 percent of hockey-related revenue, then phases them down to 47 percent over the course of the term. Their previous proposal had the players at 46 percent, and their first proposal was 43 percent.
The source added that the latest proposal did not change the definition of hockey-related revenue like the league's previous proposal.
Bettman warned, though, that the offer would be taken off the table come Saturday.
"We made clear ... that this proposal was intended to make a deal before the weekend, before the expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement, and that if in fact a deal was not achievable, what we proposed would be off the table," Bettman said.
For the players' part, Fehr said the union made a proposal consistent with its "core principles."
"I'm not going to categorize our proposal further other than to say it was made with the same principles we've always had in mind," Fehr said. "Those are, we didn't see any reason -- with seven years of record revenue growth, enormous concessions the players made last time -- to have an absolute further reduction in players' salaries."
The NHLPA is scheduled to hold player meetings Wednesday and Thursday in New York while Bettman will meet with the Board of Governors Thursday afternoon.
If a new labor deal will not be reached, Bettman said he has received a green light from the board of governors to lock out players.
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