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After new offer, Bettman says sides `far apart’
NEW YORK (AP) - NHL talks quickly broke off again Wednesday after the players made a new proposal they said left sides separated by less than $40 million annually over a five-year contract and Commissioner Gary Bettman immediately rejected the plan, saying “we’re still far apart.”
On the 67th day of a lockout that already has led to the cancellation of more than a quarter of the regular season, the sides didn’t set a date to get back together.
“On the big things there was as of today no reciprocity in any meaningful sense, no movement on the players’ share, no movement on salary-arbitration eligibility, no movement on free agency eligibility, no agreement on a pension plan,” union head Donald Fehr said.
Union officials and nine players went to the NHL office in the morning and spent about an hour making the proposal. After a 90-minute break, the sides met again for two hours, said there was nothing more to talk about for now and headed off for the Thanksgiving holiday.
“I think it’s frustrating for everybody and disappointing for everybody that’s it’s taken this long and we’re still far apart,” said Bettman, in his third lockout as commissioner.
“We have moved far more than halfway,” Fehr said. “It is about as good as we can do.”
Bettman on Oct. 16 proposed a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenue. With guaranteed contracts likely to push the players’ share over the halfway mark originally, management wants that money to come out of future years to bring the overall percentage down to an even split over the length of an agreement.
Players previously had proposed they receive a guaranteed amount of income each year.
The league has canceled 326 games through Nov. 30 plus the Jan. 1 Winter Classic between Toronto and Detroit at Ann Arbor, Mich.
This is the league’s fourth work stoppage in 21 years and third lockout since 1994. The previous lockout led to the cancellation of the 1994-95 season.
Attending the talks were San Jose center Adam Burish, free agent defenseman Chris Campoli, Detroit wing Dan Cleary, free agent wing Mathieu Darche, Winnipeg defenseman Ron Hainsey, St. Louis center Andy McDonald, Edmonton center Kevin Shattenkirk and Anaheim center Dan Winnik.
By Tom Fitton
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