TORONTO (AP) — The NHL and its players' union plan to resume bargaining Friday for the first time since the league's lockout started, but the talks are to focus on non-core economic issues.
Deputy commissioner Bill Daly and NHL Players' Association special counsel Steve Fehr met Tuesday in Toronto and scheduled the session. The session will be in New York.
These will be the first formal negotiations since Sept. 12, when the players and owners exchanged proposals.
The lockout started Sept. 16, the day training camps were to start opening. This is the third lockout since Gary Bettman became commissioner in 1993. The last lockout wiped out the 2004-05 season and ended when players accepted a salary cap.
With the sides far apart on money, they have decided to talk about non-central issues that also are necessary for an agreement. Fehr said the topics will include issues such as the pension plan, the medical plan, schedule rules, drug testing and the grievance procedure.
Top officials from the NHL and NHLPA met Monday to review last season's economics and complete escrow payments due players. The labor contract was not discussed.
"Obviously, we've got to talk before you can get a deal, so I think it's important to get the talks going again," Daly said Monday. "But you also have to have something to say. I think it's fair to say we feel like we need to hear from the players' association in a meaningful way because I don't think that they've really moved off their initial proposal, which was made more than a month ago now."
This is the NHL's fourth work stoppage in the last 20 years. Since this lockout started a handful of players have expressed concern that it could last the entire season. Detroit Red Wings forward Danny Cleary said Monday he was "just trying to be realistic."
It took three months for the NHL and NHLPA to resume bargaining after the lockout began in 2004.
The NHL has $3.3 billion in annual revenue. The league wants to reduce the players' share of hockey related revenue from 57 percent to a range between 49 percent and 47 percent, up from 43 percent in its original proposal. Players think management's alleged financial problems could be addressed by re-examining the teams' revenue-sharing formula.
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