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NHL, Players’ Union Discuss Latest Deal to End 106-Day Lockout

National Hockey League and players’ union officials are having conference calls to discuss the latest contract offer to end the 106-day lockout.

The discussions began yesterday, said league spokesman John Dellapina in an e-mail. As of late last night, there were no plans for formal face-to-face talks today, he said.

The National Hockey League Players’ Association is considering the league’s offer that was submitted Dec. 27. The NHL is seeking a deal by Jan. 11 to allow for training camps to begin the next day with a 48-game season set to start Jan. 19.

The two sides last talked Dec. 13 when federal mediators were present. The league and union met Dec. 6 in their own session that ended when the union made a counterproposal, violating the league’s offer that stipulated no further bargaining.

Under the latest offer, the league proposed raising the limit of individual free-agent contracts to six years from five years or seven years if a team re-signs its own player, the Associated Press reported, citing a person familiar with the document. It also offered to raise the salary variance from one year to another to 10 percent from 5 percent.

The latest proposal is for 10 years, running through the 2021-22 season, with both sides having the right to opt out after eight years, AP said.

The league has canceled 625 games, or 51 percent of the season, through Jan. 14. In 1994-95, an NHL lockout ended Jan. 11 and a 48-game schedule began on Jan. 20. A lockout wiped out the 2004-05 season, the only time an entire schedule was lost to a labor dispute in a major North American sports league.

The sides are arguing over how to split revenue and other issues, including salary arbitration and the length of unrestricted free agency. League revenue grew to $3.3 billion last season, up 50 percent from $2.2 billion in 2003-04.

Under the previous agreement, players received 57 percent, or $1.9 billion, of the income. The remaining $1.4 billion, or 43 percent, was shared among the league’s 30 team owners. The league this time has offered a 50-50 split.

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