Mediators still in play in NHL labor talks

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The 2004-05 season was lost completely, resulting in the players’ association accepting a deal that included a salary cap for the first time. While no such major philosophical disputes exist in these negotiations, the sides still aren’t ready to come to an agreement.

“I never thought the issues were as big as they were back in `04-05,” Morrison said Wednesday. “Apparently, I was wrong.”

A 48-game season was played in 1995 after a lockout stretched into January. Bettman said he wouldn’t have a shorter season than that.

The NHL wants to limit personal player contracts to five years, seven for a club to re-sign its own player and has elevated the issue to the highest level of importance. The union countered with an offer of an eight-year maximum length with the variable in salary being no greater than a 25 percent difference between the highest-paid year of the deal and the lowest.

The other sticking points the NHL demanded of the players are a 10-year term on the new agreement, with a mutual opt-out option after eight years, and no compliance buyouts or caps on escrow in the transition phase to the new structure. The union presented an offer of an eight-year deal with a reopener after six.

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