Bloomberg News

NHL’s Bettman Says Owners, Union Face ‘Wide Gap’ on Contract

August 16, 2012

National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman said a “wide gap” remains between the league and its players’ union in negotiations on a new labor agreement.

Bettman spoke a day after the league received a proposal from the NHL Players’ Association that offered to cut its share of hockey-related revenue by as much as $800 million over the next three seasons. The amount may be as low as $465 million, depending on league growth, the union said.

“This is a process that we’re going to continue to work hard on,” Bettman said yesterday in Toronto. “There’s still a number of issues where we’re looking at the world differently.”

The union proposal maintained the cap on salaries and increased revenue sharing to as much as $250 million a year as a means to help less financially stable clubs.

“There were parts of it they liked and parts of it they didn’t like,” Donald Fehr, executive director of the union, told reporters. “That union and management see things differently, that’s not terribly unusual. The process is to find an agreement that you can both live with even if you come at it from different directions.”

Two days ago, Fehr said that its plan “can produce a stable industry and one that, going forward, can give us a chance to move beyond the recurring labor strife that has plagued the NHL for the last two decades.”

The two sides will meet again Aug. 22, Bettman said.

Players and the league are trying to reach agreement on a collective bargaining agreement and avoid a work stoppage that may affect games next season.

The current deal was reached after the 2004-05 season was wiped out when owners shut down the league. If a new agreement isn’t reached by Sept. 15, there’s no legal requirement for a lockout and the league and players can continue to operate under the old accord.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mike Buteau in Atlanta at mbuteau@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net


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