Sides to meet again on Aug. 17

Updated: August 6, 2004, 3:33 PM ET
Associated Press

TORONTO -- Labor talks between the NHL and its players' union resumed Wednesday, but both sides said no progress was made toward a deal.

The four-hour session in the union's Toronto office was their first meeting since July 21, when the league presented six possible concepts for a new economic system.

The collective bargaining agreement expires Sept. 15. If a new agreement isn't reached, a lockout could threaten the entire season.

"They haven't moved off their desire for a salary cap, and that's not going to lead us to any progress," said Ted Saskin, the players' association senior director.

Asked if he could be persuaded to adopt a luxury tax, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said no.

"I wish we were making more substantive progress, but we have a vision for the future of the game. It is one that requires substantive changes so that the game and our clubs can be healthy," Bettman said. "The union, at least for the time being, seems intent on maintaining the status quo and as we all know that isn't working."

Bettman has vowed to establish "cost certainty" for clubs. He is determined to make sure the percentage of revenues paid out in player salaries is sliced.

"They are married to the status quo or tweaks to the status quo," said Bill Daly, the NHL's chief legal officer. "To us, the status quo is disastrous."

An economic study commissioned by the NHL found that players get 76 percent of all league revenues -- far more than the percentage for the other major team sports. The players' association has challenged many of the league's financial findings.

"It appears to us, and we've been saying this for a long time, that their plan is to trigger a lockout to try to put economic force on the players to try to get a salary cap," Saskin said.

"The only thing they are proposing is something they know is unacceptable to us. They haven't been willing to engage in any compromise solutions, so I can't really have any sense of optimism today."

Saskin said the union proposed a system last Oct. 1 that included revenue sharing, a luxury tax, a one-time five percent rollback in salaries and some changes to entry-level salaries, but he says they might scale back that proposal because he says players salaries have decreased since then.

Bettman, Daly and other league lawyers met with union head Bob Goodenow, Saskin and their group of lawyers.

They have agreed to meet again Aug. 17 in New York.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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