New York, NY (Sports Network) - NHL commissioner Gary Bettman reiterated on
Thursday that the league is prepared to lock out its players if no collective
bargaining agreement is reached by Sept. 15, the day the current CBA expires.
"I reconfirmed something that the union has been told multiple times over the
last nine to 12 months, namely that time is getting short and the owners are
not prepared to operate under this collective bargaining agreement for another
season, so we need to get to making a deal and doing it soon," Bettman said
following Thursday's negotiating session. "We believe there is ample time for
the parties to get together and make a deal, and that is what we're going to
be working towards."
The league made a proposal to the players on July 13 and the sides have been
battling on financial issues, including revenue sharing. The initial proposal
by the owners would reportedly cut the players' split of league revenue from
57 percent to possibly as low as 43 percent.
According to the New York Times, that proposal would also limit contract
lengths and extend entry-level contracts from three to five years. Also,
players would not be eligible to become restricted free agents until 10 years
of service rather than seven, which is currently in place. Salary arbitration
would be eliminated.
"We made a presentation directly related to the owners' proposed revenue
sharing system as it would be combined with the player compensation system
that they had also proposed," union head Donald Fehr said. "It didn't look
like the way to go."
Although talks are expected to continue Friday in New York, Fehr said the two
sides will meet Tuesday in Toronto, at the union's headquarters, to have a
response to the league's proposal for "core economic matters."
"Our initial proposal relates to the fact that we need to be paying out less
in player costs," Bettman said. "While revenue sharing has been an important
part of the existing collective bargaining agreement, we intend to have it
going forward in an enhanced way.
"Revenue sharing isn't the key element. It's an element that has to be dealt
with. The fundamental economics need to be dealt with first.
"We obviously have a wide gap to bridge on a whole host of issues, including
the significance and importance of revenue sharing. This is something we've
been doing in a significant way during the entire term of this collective
bargaining agreement. It's something we're prepared to do going forward and
increase in a variety of ways that we've proposed."
A labor dispute wiped out the 2004-05 season.
The Sports Network