NEW YORK (AP) — NHL labor negotiations will resume Thursday after the players' union reviewed management's proposal and saw it as only a small step forward to ending the monthlong lockout.
The NHL made the proposal Tuesday in what it said was an attempt to preserve a full 82-game schedule. The league publicly released the plan Wednesday.
NHL players' union head Donald Fehr met with players to formulate the union's response. In a letter to players and agents, he said the management plan would cost his members more than $1.6 billion over six years.
"Simply put, the owners' new proposal, while not quite as Draconian as their previous proposals, still represents enormous reductions in player salaries and individual contracting rights," Fehr said in the letter, according to a report by TSN. "As you will see, at the 5 percent industry growth rate the owners predict, the salary reduction over six years exceeds $1.6 billion. What do the owners offer in return?"
The lockout began Sept. 16 and last week the league canceled regular-season games through Oct. 24. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, in announcing the new proposal, called it "a fair offer for a long-term deal" and "one that we hope gets a positive reaction."
"We're studying it and we're trying to get ready to give a response tomorrow," said union lawyer Steve Fehr, brother of the union leader.
In the midst of their third lockout since 1994, owners gave the union what the league called a "proposal to save 82-game season." The NHL said it hoped a deal would be reached by Oct 25 and the season would start by Nov. 2, three weeks behind schedule.
"We do not yet know whether this proposal is a serious attempt to negotiate an agreement, or just another step down the road," Donald Fehr wrote. "The next several days will be, in large part, an effort to discover the answer to that question."
NHL spokesman Frank Brown said the league was not responding to Fehr's letter.
The NHL released details of its offer for a six-year deal with a mutual option for a seventh. The plan includes a 50-50 split in hockey related revenue
The NHL proposed in July to cut the percentage of hockey related revenue from 57 percent to 43 percent, then increased its offer in September to about 47 percent.
Winnipeg Jets forward Olli Jokinen called the plan a "starting point," according to The Canadian Press.
"I hope we can get going ASAP," Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall told The Associated Press on Wednesday night. "We will be presenting something soon and hopefully this week's proposals will spark things in the right direction. Still some work to get done."
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