NHL deal within reach - June 15th drop dead date

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Jun. 2, 2005. 01:00 AM

NHL deal within reach

Progress reported on revenue issue

Top brass rejoins hockey talks today



The NHL and its players' union made more progress on key accounting issues yesterday ? fuelling further optimism that a new collective bargaining agreement is within reach.b>

The second of two bargaining sessions in Toronto gets underway today with the two sides waiting for smaller bargaining groups to hammer out a formula for revenue reporting among the league's 30 teams.

A binding revenue formula is the key to moving the talks toward final negotiations, buafter nearly 48 hours of meetings spread over five days ? including nearly 12 hours yesterday ? has failed to produce that vital agreemNHL commissioner Gary Bettman and union chief Bob Goodenow rejoin the talks today for full-blown negotiations.s. The NHLPA executive committee, chief legal counsels from the NHL and financial lawyers from both sides met yesterday in smaller groups.

The groups are apparently close to reaching settlement on the revenue issue and there was speculation in some quarters yesterday that they had in fact reached a settlement.

"Honestly, I haven't heard anything from our people (union) ... I don't know if people are playing it up, or if something is going on. ... If it is, great," said Leafs defenceman and player representative Bryan McCHe confirmed the revenue issue is dominating the talks at the moment and that the key to a new deal will almost certainly feature a floating salary cap with player salaries tied to league revenues.s.

"If that's the plan, to have our salaries linked to revenue, then that's what we are trying to do, get on the same page (with the accounting of revenues), so no one will be in the dark about that when it comes time to make the deal," added McCabe.

"It's been talked about (linkage and caps) so we'll see, it's being worked out."

McCabe also said he was not aware of dissatisfied and desperate factions among the union membership that are pushing for an immediate end to the lockRumours of unrest in the membership, coupled with the loss of the $60 million (U.S.) ESPN broadcasting deal and approaching deadlines to re-sign key sponsors, spurred feelings that a deal was imminent.t.

"I don't feel that kind of pressure now," McCabe said. "Obviously it will get done at some point and we all feel the game belongs back on the ice."

McCabe said he doesn't feel the players will emerge the big losers in the new deal.

"I don't think anyone's going to win at this stage, since we've seen the damage to the game all over the world," McCabe said. ESPN announced that it would not pick up its $60 million option under the previous contract, but tried to retain the rights for less money.

The New York Times reported that Mark Shapiro, ESPN's executive president for programming and production, said Bettman "was uncomfortable cutting the rights fees to anything below $60 million.''

The Times reported that NHL spokesman Frank Brown confirmed that the league wasn't satisfied with the negotiations.

"When the now-expired contract was negotiated, the $60 million option price tag took a work stoppage ? potentially a long-term work stoppage ? into consideration," Brown said. "We have no interest in further devaluing the product.''


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Make a deal already bring back my beloved sport!! I've been playing bubble hockey like a madman to get my fix. :D

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We've all been down this road before, but both sides have never been THIS close. It's always been "no progress", "we're further apart than ever", etc. Now, everytime they meet, whether or not Bettman and Goodenow are involved, progress is made little by little. A deal WILL get done, it's only a matter of when, and I'd say within a couple of weeks, no later than Canada Day.

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im hoping very soon! just so i have re-insurance that NHL will be back in full swing....

i know hockey wont be back until October.. but i cant wait anymore! summer starts in 2 weeks.. and i honestly cant wait for it to be fall again.. im dying for NHL to return!!

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