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NHL hopeful progress continues with NHLPA proposal

by Dan Rosen

NEW YORK -- National Hockey League Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said Thursday he is hopeful the forthcoming proposal from the National Hockey League Players' Association's negotiating committee will lead to further progress being made toward establishing a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The NHL's negotiating committee expects to receive a response Friday to the six-year counterproposal it presented earlier this week. The two sides are scheduled to meet Friday morning at the League office.

The NHL's counterproposal came in response to the Union's initial offer, which was presented Aug. 14. The League made the first formal proposal of these negotiations July 13.

The current CBA expires Sept. 15. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman previously said the owners will not operate under the current agreement.

"We feel like we made a good step in that direction (toward progress) earlier this week and we hope that they would take a step forward as well," Daly said.

When compared with the terms of its initial offer of July 13, the six-year deal the League tabled Tuesday proposed an increase of approximately $460 million to the total amount that would be paid to players during the life of the agreement -- including $120 million in Year 1 alone.

The proposal was based on a phase-in approach that would contemplate fixed-dollar amounts for the players' share in each of the first three seasons, with respective reductions during those seasons of 11 percent, 8.5 percent and 5.5 percent compared to what the players received in 2011-12.

Beginning in the fourth year of the deal, and in each of the years thereafter, the players' share would return to a percentage of hockey-related revenues and would feature a 50-50 split of revenues between players and owners.

The NHL's projections indicate that the players' total dollars share by that point should be restored fully to the previous levels and will again begin growing in relation to the growth in League-wide revenues.

The Union took Tuesday night and Wednesday morning to analyze the proposal before the sides got back together Wednesday afternoon. The Union held a conference call with its executive board and negotiating committee Wednesday night, and was spending Thursday framing its response.

Daly said NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr outlined some of the areas that the Union intends to focus on in its response and some of the issues it had concerns with during Wednesday's 90-minute negotiating session between Commissioner Bettman, Daly, Fehr and NHLPA Special Counsel Steve Fehr.

"So, I have some basis of understanding of some of the things of what they propose to us may focus on, but I don't want to speculate as to what [Donald Fehr] might come back with," Daly said.

Daly added that the NHL's negotiating committee is open to further negotiation on its counterproposal, but the nature of those negotiations will be based on what the Union presents Friday.

"We're not married to the structure, so if it's a good proposal [from the Union] and takes a different route, we're open to that," Daly said.

The NHL is planning to take time to analyze the Union's proposal, and it is possible the sides continue to negotiate through the holiday weekend.

"Obviously the first proposal they made on Aug. 14, we took the night to analyze it and break it down and figure it out," Daly said. "Depending on what this is, we may need to take time as well, but certainly there is nothing that would preclude us from meeting on Saturday if there is a reason to meet on Saturday."

The League remains hopeful a new CBA will be in place by Sept. 15, but Daly conceded that "obviously the clock is ticking."

"We're almost into September now," he continued. "I would say the positive thing is I think both parties are committed, if there are reasons to meet and continue to move forward, to meet as often as it takes to get a deal done. But, obviously every day that goes by it's less and less likely that we'll be able to come to closure on all of the issues we need to come to closure on."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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