Threat to NHL season start

13 September 2012 07:37

With a lock-out imminent, the NHL and players union exchanged offers in a last-ditch attempt at harmony on Wednesday.

The meeting was the first in more than a week and covered negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement.

But, with the current deal set to expire on Saturday, the start to the 2012-13 NHL season could be delayed.

NHL Players' Association head Donald Fehr delivered his proposal at the league's Manhattan headquarters while the NHL's counter offer will be taken off the table if it is not accepted by the players before the current agreement expires.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman admitted the standoff was a concern, saying it was hurting the sport's reputation.

"With every day we are experiencing, and will continue to experience, damage to the game and to the business of the game," Bettman said.

"What we would be prepared to do now to make a deal before there is extensive damage is not the same that we will be prepared to do in the event we get to the point where we have suffered the damage."

The NHL's board of governors are preparing for a meeting in New York on Thursday while more than 300 players are expected to attend the NHLPA's upcoming meeting.

"If there is a real intent on the other side to make a deal then we will get into a room make a deal and address the issues in a meaningful way," Bettman said.

"We looked at their proposal and it was clear there wasn't very much movement at all."

Bettman and NHL owners insist they are losing hundreds of millions of dollars each year, predominantly from the smaller market teams, with losses increased by inflated player salaries.

Yet the players believe otherwise, arguing that the league has recorded record profits in each of the past seven seasons and pointing to a 24 percent pay cut the players were forced to take when the salary cap was introduced after negotiations in 2004 and 2005.

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