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New idea expected to be on table

4/14/2005

NEW YORK -- The NHL and the players' association will return
to the bargaining table next Tuesday, a source close to the
negotiations said Wednesday.

The sides will get back together in New York for the first time
since a seven-hour meeting on April 4, the source told The
Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

It is expected that a new idea will be on the table during this
next round of talks that could help bridge the divide on whether
player costs should be linked to league revenues.

The NHL has maintained that it prefers a direct relationship
that ties player costs to league revenues, while the union has
mostly rejected that idea. This new, mixed plan would appear to
incorporate elements from both concepts.

Two "de-linked" proposals have been made by the NHL, and both were
pulled back.

The next meeting will take place one day before the NHL board of
governors convenes Wednesday to get a labor update and to discuss
further the possible use of replacement players should an agreement
not be reached with the union.

The topic first came up when the board met March 1 in New York --
two weeks after commissioner Gary Bettman canceled the 2004-05
season because of the lockout that started seven months ago.

On March 17, the NHL made two proposals -- one containing a link
between player costs and league revenues, and another without the
relationship.

But the "de-linked" offer had a short shelf life, and the
deadline for the union to accept that kind of deal expired last
Friday.

The latest unlinked proposal set each team's salary cap at $37.5
million. The linkage offer limited player costs to 54 percent of
the league's revenues.

On Wednesday, the players' association also set up its annual
membership meeting to be held May 25-26 in Toronto.

It is expected that a large number of the more than 700 members
will attend and get an update on negotiations. Nearly half spent
part of last season in Europe and didn't have a chance to go to
other union meetings.