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Friday, May 6, 2005
Sides continue to discuss hybrid concept

Associated Press

NEW YORK -- The NHL made a new offer to the players' association during two days of negotiations in Toronto, but no headway was made toward ending the lockout.

The sides met for 4½ hours Friday on the heels of a 3½-hour meeting Thursday -- the first round of talks since April 19.

"No real progress I can report on," said NHL chief legal officer Bill Daly, who declined to provide details of the proposal.

The sides are scheduled to meet again next week and the following week to try to reach a solution to end the lockout that began last September and forced the cancellation of the entire 2004-05 season.

"We further discussed the conceptual framework first raised at our April 4 meeting," Daly said. "Both sides intend to spend the next several days continuing to work internally, and at this point, we are hoping to meet again in New York on Tuesday."

The players' association proposal April 4 contained a hybrid concept which addressed the relationship between player salaries and league revenues. It contained an upper cap of $50 million and a floor of $30 million.

As before, the sides have not come close to an agreement on the values of the caps or how wide a range there should be between the minimums and maximums.

This two-day meeting marked the sixth and seventh bargaining sessions since NHL commissioner Gary Bettman canceled the season Feb. 16.

"We met with league representatives the past two days and continued discussions to develop a new conceptual framework for an agreement," Saskin said. "No progress was made."

When the sides last met two weeks ago, the discussions ended with a heated exchange between Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs and players' association leadership.

The league was represented this time by Bettman, Daly, NHL director of operations Colin Campbell, New Jersey Devils CEO Lou Lamoriello, chairman of the board of governors Harley Hotchkiss of the Calgary Flames, Jacobs, Nashville Predators owner Craig Leipold, and attorneys Bob Batterman, David Zimmerman and Shep Goldfein.

On the players' association side were: executive director Bob Goodenow, senior director Ted Saskin, director of business relations Mike Gartner, NHLPA president Trevor Linden, executive committee vice presidents Bill Guerin and Bob Boughner, associate counsel Ian Pulver and outside counsel John McCambridge.

In another matter, the British Columbia Labor Relations Board ruled Friday that the players' association can proceed with its application to have the union certified in the province.

Last week, the NHLPA applied for certification in Quebec and British Columbia to prevent the Montreal Canadiens and Vancouver Canucks from using replacement players at home during the lockout.

A hearing on Tuesday lasted about three hours with the focus mostly on the NHL's argument that the hearing should be postponed on jurisdictional issues.

The league filed an unfair labor charge with the U.S. National Labor Relations Board after the players' association filed its applications and wanted the hearing to be put off until the complaint was heard.

"While, obviously, we would have preferred a different result, this is only the first step in a longer process," Daly said. "We will continue to pursue our opposition to the certification of a local union that would be inconsistent with the reality of our bargaining relationship and history, and potentially destabilizing and destructive to the multi-employer bargaining process."

Employees in Quebec and British Columbia can't be replaced during a lockout or strike that is governed by the provincial labor code.