NHL Players Offer New Proposal, But Owners Say Much Work Remains to Lift Lockout

NEW YORK — NHL players gave management a new proposal Wednesday that the union said left sides less than $40 million apart annually over a five-year contract.

After a day away from bargaining for internal discussions, union officials and nine players were at the NHL office for an hour. There was little optimism as they took a 90-minute break. The two sides resumed discussions early Wednesday afternoon.

“We did give them the proposal,” union head Donald Fehr said. “They indicated they’re going to have a response to us a little later on.”

On the 67th day of a lockout that already has led to the cancellation of more than a quarter of the regular season, Fehr said players made a percentage-based proposal, which he said reflected the economic impact the work stoppage had caused.

“We have moved far more than halfway,” Fehr said. “It is about as good as we can do.”

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman proposed a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenue Oct. 16. 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.

“Gary said we were $900 million or a $1 billion apart,” Fehr said, referring to the gap over a five-year deal. “At the moment we are exactly $182 million apart.”

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 2004-05 season.

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