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Ladd cautiously optimistic about proposal

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WINNIPEG — NHL players are happy to see something fresh with the league’s new offer today but it’s not a final deal, Winnipeg Jets captain Andrew Ladd cautioned Tuesday night.

Ladd, who participated in the National Hockey League Players Association’s conference call late this afternoon, said there’s still a considerable way to go before he and his teammates are back on the ice.

"I definitely think guys are happy another proposal was made and hopefully it leads to something more," Ladd said, asked what the mood of the call was today. "That’s the best way to put it."

The focal point of the NHL’s new offer was a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenue, with a system to compensate players for the full value of their existing contracts should reduced payroll levels require a cut in their deals.

Any cut, the league proposed, would become deferred compensation but would eventually be paid back to players.

The NHLPA believes that all of that future deferred compensation will simply come out of the players’ share of revenues, leaving less money for all future contracts.

"That’s kind of smoke and mirrors of their part," Ladd said. "A little bit. That, for us, wasn’t great to see."

But the multiple elements of the NHL’s proposal is something to talk about, Ladd added.

"I think that coming up to 50 (per cent) is closer," he said. "This probably should have been their starting point. I don’t know why it took so long to get to this point. But it is definitely that they’re coming more our way and hopefully it’s something we both can negotiate off of and get to a deal so we can start playing hockey."

What’s the union’s next move?

"We’re discussing internally the best way to move forward," the Jets captain said. "Hopefully something comes out of that in the next 24 or 48 hours."

The league made its new proposal today with a target of starting a full season of 82 games by Nov. 2.

Commissioner Gary Bettman said that leaves only nine or 10 days to get a deal complete so that there could be about a week of training camp before that date.

A league source said the NHL is hopeful the full season of 82 game is a carrot for players — they won’t have to miss any paycheques — and that it was incentive on its own part to limit or almost eliminate any business damage to the game both this year and next.

"But there’s not a lot of wiggle room here," the source said.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

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