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Last Updated: Friday, 10 September, 2004, 03:03 GMT 04:03 UK
NHL set for shutdown

NHL team owners and players representatives have failed to agree a deal over a new bargaining agreement, meaning the season is unlikley to start as scheduled.

The NHL Players Association presented owners with a plan to replace the existing deal during a four-hour meeting on Thursday, but it was rejected.

"We are extremely disappointed with what the union presented," said NHL executive vice president Bill Daly.

"The union has simply repackaged its original unacceptable and ineffective proposal from 15 months ago and even watered it down."

NHLPA president Trevor Linden said: "We believe that our four-point proposal is the best available way to reach a fair agreement with the league.

"The actual percentages and benchmarks within our proposal would be subject to negotiation, at whatever time the league actually comes forward to negotiate with us."

The NHL's existing Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) expires at midnight on 14 September, with the regular season due to begin on 13 October.

If no new agreement is in place by September 15, owners have indicated they will lock out the players until their demands are met.

Three days of intensive talks in Montreal last week ended in apparent deadlock, leaving little hope the league can avoid what would be its second stoppage in 10 years.

Facing mounting losses that an NHL-commissioned audit claims totalled nearly $300m in 2002-03, owners are demanding that 'cost certainty' be built into any new agreement.

Proposals rejected

Players maintain this is nothing more than a bid to implement a salary cap, which they have vowed never to accept.

The league says that more than 70% of revenue generated by clubs goes on player salaries, a far higher percentage than North America's other major professional sports.

Owners put forward six proposals to the players on 25 July but all were rejected by the union as a form of salary cap.

The league in turn has dismissed an NHLPA proposal that incorporated a luxury tax (an NHL-imposed tax on player salaries above a certain threshold) and revenue sharing.

The NHL also rejected an offer by the union for a one-off five percent reduction in salaries.





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SEE ALSO
NHL lock-out looms
26 Aug 04  |  US Sport
Strike threatens new season
05 Aug 04  |  US Sport


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