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NHLPA demands details at CBA talks

The NHL Players' Association's request to the unprecedented demands from the NHL's 30 owners was for information.

The NHL Players' Association's request to the unprecedented demands from the NHL's 30 owners was for information.

"[We asked] for them to give us more details. Further information, we requested," NHLPA Executive Director Don Fehr said after the owners and the NHLPA met at the league's Midtown office for two hours and 15 minutes on Wednesday.

The two sides will meet again tomorrow and Friday, and sessions are scheduled for next week at the NHLPA's offices in Toronto.

Fehr was seconded by 15 players including Brandon Dubinsky, Henrik Lundqvist, Rick DiPietro and Kyle Okposo.

Yesterday's mid-afternoon session was the first since the league presented a proposal to the NHLPA on Friday.

RDS in Canada and the New York Post reported that the league's initial offer to the players requested an 11 percent drop in hockey-related revenue (from 57 percent to 46 percent), the extension of entry-level contracts from the current three years to five, the abolishment of arbitration, a five-year maximum on contracts including the elimination of signing bonuses and the provision that the monetary value of the deal remain the same.

The owners' proposal also requested players become unrestricted free agents after 10 NHL seasons. In the current CBA, players are eligible to become UFA's after seven NHL seasons or are 27 years of age.

Finally, the league's proposal also slashed the cap ceiling from $8 million over the adjusted midpoint to $4 million while the cap floor would remain at $8 million under the adjusted midpoint.

The league and the NHLPA released a joint statement prior to the start of free agency that stated the cap floor for 2012-13 would be $54.2 million, the midpoint was $62.2 million and the cap ceiling is $70.2 million.

Under the owners' proposal the floor and midpoint would remain the same but the cap ceiling would be $66.2 million, if using the 2012-13 payroll range as a barometer.

CBC subsequently reported that the league's offer was two pages long.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman called the league's offer a "serious proposal," and added that he is "focused on making a deal. [I'm] focused on getting a deal done."

The reaction to owners proposal has lead to speculation that the league is headed toward another work stoppage.

However, Fehr, who confirmed that the owners asked for a reduction in hockey related revenues, reiterated his belief that the 2012-13 season could start while the NHL and NHLPA negotiate a new CBA, and Dubinsky termed yesterday's session as "cordial." He added, "there hasn't been any hostility.

"Like anything, it's a negotiation. [We] have to work with them," Dubinsky said. "It's a negotiation, a starting point.

"We want to know where they are coming from."

Added Fehr: "[The] initial proposal, we are looking hard at." He went on to say that he does not have a timetable in mind to submit a counter proposal.

"We're not at that stage yet," Fehr said. "At the appropriate point in time, we'll make our proposal."

The existing CBA does not expire until Sept. 15. Training camps start on Sept. 16, and the 2012-13 season begins on Oct. 11. Some have argued those dates, along with Nov. 23 (Thanksgiving Showdown) and Jan. 1 (Winter Classic), could be impetus for both sides to hammer out an agreement.

"We have a lot of work to do [in a relatively short time frame]," Bettman said. "There is a relatively short window."

There is also the NBC factor. The league and the network agreed to a 10-year, $2-billion contract in April 2011. It is not out of the realm of possibility that the network and its cable arms — NBC Sports Network, most notably — could put pressure on both sides to make a deal.

Bettman said prior to Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final the NHL earned $3.3 billion last season.



Follow NHL beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman for more on the CBA negotiations.

 
 
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