NHL Continues Talks With Players in New York as Deadline Looms

Talks between the National Hockey League and its locked out players continue today in New York as a midnight deadline approaches to dissolve the players’ union.

The 30-member executive board of the NHL Players’ Association has until shortly before midnight to decide whether it will file a “disclaimer of interest,” resulting in the union being dissolved. Players voted unanimously in December to give the board the authority to file the disclaimer.

The deadline comes as the union reviews the most recent contract offer from the NHL. The two sides have exchanged three separate proposals in the past five days.

Before meeting in New York this week, the two sides hadn’t held face-to-face negotiations since Dec. 13, when federal mediators were present.

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 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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