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May 1, 2017

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Labor talks between NHL, union on hold

Negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement have been put on hold until Friday when the National Hockey League (NHL) expects to receive a counter-proposal from the union representing its players.

With the threat of a lockout looming larger, union head Donald Fehr had initially hoped to deliver a response on Thursday but the NHL Players' Association (NHLPA) needed more time to review team financial data it obtained on Wednesday.

"We're hopeful that it's a meaningful proposal that we can continue to make progress from," NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told reporters. "We feel like we made a good step in that direction earlier this week and we hope that they would take a step forward as well."

The NHL wants to reduce the players' share of hockey-related revenues to 46 percent from 57 percent despite enjoying record-breaking revenue of US$3.3. billion last season along with an increase in television ratings.

Though the league's most recent proposal is one year longer than its initial offer, Fehr believes changes in how the revenue is calculated would result in a significant increase in the amount of money players give up to escrow.

"From a players' standpoint, it doesn't make much of a difference," Fehr said. "Should the player not get the dollar value that is on his contract because there is a rollback ... or whether he doesn't get an amount because there is escrow, he still doesn't get it."

With the current labor agreement set to expire on Sept. 15, players and owners are in a critical stage of bargaining if they are to avoid another lockout like the one that wiped out the entire 2004-05 NHL season.

"We're almost into September now," said Daly. "I would say the positive thing is I think both parties are committed, if there are reasons to meet and continue to move forward, to meet as often as it takes to get a deal done.

"But obviously every day that goes by it's less and less likely that we'll be able to come to closure on all of the issues we need to come to closure on."

The 82-game regular season is scheduled to open on Oct. 11.

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