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Last Updated: Sunday, 8 February, 2004, 14:39 GMT
NHL strike threat casts shadow
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman
We know the magnitude of our losses and we know the situation can be fixed
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman
NHL bosses and players are attempting to agree a new collective bargaining agreement [CBA] before the current one expires in September.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said a new TV deal and possible rule changes to boost scoring would mean little unless a settlement is reached.

"I know what our problems are, and I believe the union knows what the problems are," he said.

If a new agreement cannot be brokered, the 2004-05 NHL season is under threat.

Several players in St Paul for this weekend's mid-season All-Star Game have said their union is prepared to strike to get the terms it wants.

But Bettman denied claims by some players that the league has proposed a so-called hard salary cap of $31m for each teams.

He claimed the NHL has only suggested a system that links revenues and player salaries.

Bettman added: "We know the magnitude of our losses and we know the situation can be fixed. We want to make a deal that addresses the issues that confront this game."

Away from the CBA issue, the NHL is, during the off-season, to explore several measures aimed at increasing scoring.

Statistics show that scoring is down about half a goal a game over the past three years.

One of the proposals up for discussion is an increase in the points awarded to winning teams from two to three.

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