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Bettman, owners 'thoroughly disappointed' with NHLPA counter proposals

Cancellation of more NHL games likely

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TORONTO — If there was any optimism for negotiations between the NHL and NHLPA after the league’s proposal on Tuesday, put it back on the shelf.

Commissioner Gary Bettman emerged from a mere one-hour meeting this afternoon at NHLPA headquarters in downtown Toronto to tell assembled reporters he’s "thoroughly disappointed."

"I wish I had better news," Bettman said.

The NHLPA put three "new" proposals on the table today in the face-to-face meeting, all concerning the players share which the owners proposed Tuesday should be 50 per cent for a six- or seven-year deal.

Those came nowhere close to meeting the NHL’s parameters, Bettman said, and he added that the way things stand, the cancelation of more games is on the horizon.

With its Tuesday proposal, the league had hoped to salvage a full 82-game season by starting on Nov. 2.

NHLPA executive director Don Fehr told reporters today that his side presented three options to the league

Each was a move, gradually, to get to the 50-50 revenue split, depending on future growth.

That was much like the NHLPA’s original proposal.

The third option was more intriguing, but rejected by the league just the same.

The players proposed to go right to the 50-50 split, but that the NHL would have to fully honour all contracts signed before the lockout began Sept. 15.

"They did what they’ve done before," Fehr said of the league’s bargaining team today that included four owners. "They took a very few minutes. They don’t think about it very much. They don’t analyze it and they don’t talk to the other owners. They take less than 10 minutes. Maybe it was 15 minutes. We have a meeting and we’re told two things. All three proposals are rejected in their entirety. And secondly, the proposal that we recently got is their best offer and they might be willing to tweak it around the edges.

"But that’s it.

"When you think about it, if you think that’s their best offer, why in the world did we see it four weeks into a lockout?"

Among the 18 players at today’s meetings were Sidney Crosby and Winnipeg native Jonathan Toews.

"It’s come to the point where it’s just disappointing that the league has waited this long to throw this so-called last-ditch effort to salvage an 82-game season," Toews said today. "We just want them to honour the current contracts that we’re under right now. That’s all we’re asking."

The Chicago Blackhaws captain said, however, the players won’t throw a fit that the commissioner turned a quick thumbs-down to their ideas today.

"At this point, we’re not going to overreact to anything the NHL tries to do or throw in our face," Toews said. "We’re going to stay together and calm as a group."

No further meetings are scheduled, though both sides said they are open to discussions.

 

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 3:11 PM CDT: Updates with Bettman reaction.

5:37 PM: Updates with player reaction

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