The Washington Times - October 16, 2012, 01:32PM

It may not directly lead to a new collective bargaining agreement and the start of an NHL season within the next couple of weeks, but the owners’ newest offer to the Players’ Association appears to be at least a start.

The NHL on Tuesday presented the NHLPA with a proposal that included a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenue across the board. Other details, as reported by Sportsnet in Canada, included capping new contracts at five years and pushing unrestricted free agency to age 28 or eight years of service.

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The deal is contingent on getting an 82-game season in, starting Nov. 2. That would take the Stanley Cup Playoffs through late June.

“We very much want to preserve a full 82-game season, and in that light, we made a proposal, an offer, really that is our best shot at preserving an 82-game regular season and playoffs,” commissioner Gary Bettman said from Toronto.

“We don’t negotiate publicly, and I’m not going to break that habit because I don’t think it’s constructive. The fact of the matter is, we offered a 50-50 share of HRR, hockey related revenues, and we believe we addressed the concern that players have about what happens to their salaries as a result in this year of reducing the percentage from 57 to 50 percent.”

Players have been adamant about not rolling back their salaries on already-signed deals. According to various reports Tuesday, the NHL’s offer includes a way to trim the players’ share immediately while paying back on contracts later.

NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr told reporters in New York that he and his constituents needed time to comb through the new offer. That he did not dismiss it out of hand should be seen as a positive sign.

The NHL had canceled the first 82 games of the 2012-13 season and more were to come later in the week had no traction been made in negotiations. It’s unclear what would happen if a deal were to be agreed to this week, though training camps would figure to start around Oct. 25.