NHLPA, owners table new CBA proposals

NEW YORK — The NHL and the NHL Players’ Association have exchanged proposals as collective bargaining talks picked up today in the face of a potential lockout.

NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr confirmed that the union tabled a new proposal.

He said the offer was “consistent” with the last one the union submitted, though he did say players were willing to take a lower percentage of revenues over time.

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Fehr spoke to a group of reporters Wednesday afternoon, where he made it clear the two sides are not close to a deal.

“What we hope is there can be dialogue that can push us the rest of the way that can get us to an agreement,” Fehr told reporters on Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, the league answered with a counter-proposal.

The NHL’s proposal includes an increase to the 46 per cent of revenue players were offered in the league’s last proposal.

The players currently get 57 per cent of revenues.

Commissioner Gary Bettman would not say how much the increase to the players’ share of revenue was.

Bettman also said that the definition of hockey-related revenues — the pool of revenues which the league and players split under the collective bargaining agreement — would remain unchanged in an effort to simplify the process.

Bettman says he and two owners crafted the proposal in response to an earlier offer tabled by the NHLPA, which the commissioner characterized as inadequate.

“League’s counter offer was crafted quite quickly today. Two owners involved. Boston’s (Jeremy) Jacobs and Calgary’s (N. Murray) Edwards,” tweeted Sportsnet’s John Shannon. “Make no mistake Flames’ fans, Murray Edwards is a force in this league. The late Harley Hotchkiss was always the voice of Canada and reason. Now it’s Edwards job to fill those big shoes.”

The current collective bargaining agreement expires Saturday at midnight, at which time the league says it will withdraw the offer and lock out the players.

Fehr says he doesn’t “know whether this will lead to anything.”

The sides resumed discussions at the league’s Manhattan offices with just over three days remaining before their collective bargaining agreement expires.

It’s the first formal session they’ve held since Aug. 31.

Prior to the meeting, deputy commissioner Bill Daly told The Canadian Press that he expected the union to deliver an “agenda” or “message,” if not a proposal.

With Saturday’s deadline of 11:59 p.m. ET looming for a lockout, it promises to be an important few days.

The union will open a meeting with some 300 players later in the day while the NHL’s board of governors is scheduled to convene on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the union says it has filed an application with Quebec’s labour relations board, along with at least 16 players of the Montreal Canadiens, asking it to declare a lockout illegal in the province.

A hearing on the application is scheduled for Friday morning in Montreal.

(with files from AP)