New idea expected to be on table

Updated: April 14, 2005, 3:29 PM ET
Associated Press

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.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press