Bettman: NHL, players ‘still far apart’

The Globe and Mail

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman walks past the Air Canada Centre, home of the Toronto Maple Leafs, as he makes his way to collective bargaining talks in Toronto on Thursday October 18, 2012. (Chris Young/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Despite an in-depth new proposal from the players, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the two sides remain “far apart” in attempting to end the more than two-month-long lockout.

Bettman spoke briefly with reporters in New York on Wednesday after a day of meetings with the NHLPA in which the union proposed a revamped deal that dropped the financial gap to only $182-million.

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“There was some movement in our direction and it was appreciated,” Bettman said. “We’re still far apart. But hopefully there’s some momentum so we can bring this to a conclusion.”

Two key issues remain between the sides.

One is the amount of money in a “make whole” proposal, with the owners offering $211-million and the players countering with $393-million.

The other is a series of contractual rights, where the players offered far less movement on Wednesday.

The two sides are expected to meet again later in the week.

Bettman said on Wednesday that the league is losing between $18- and $20-million a day during the lockout, missing revenue that makes coming to an agreement with players even more difficult.

The commissioner remarked that it was unrealistic for owners to have to pay a larger share of that lost revenue than the players.

“It’s frustrating for everybody,” he said of the negotiations.

Frustrations aren’t just limited to the NHL and the union, however. At one point during the press conference, Bettman was interrupted by a heckling fan, who was later revealed to be Jaymes Hall from Lancaster, Pa.

After he finished speaking with reporters, Bettman had a conversation with Hall and thanked him for being a fan.

Attending the talks were San Jose center Adam Burish, free agent defenceman Chris Campoli, Detroit wing Dan Cleary, free agent wing Mathieu Darche, Winnipeg defenceman Ron Hainsey, St. Louis center Andy McDonald, Edmonton centre Kevin Shattenkirk and Anaheim centre Dan Winnik.

With a report from The Associated Press

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