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Gap remains between NHL, NHLPA in CBA Negotiations

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24 hours after receiving a response proposal from the NHLPA, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told NHL.com that there is still a “wide gap” between the two parties in terms of the CBA’s economic system.

“I think it’s fair to say that we value the [Union's] proposal and what it means in terms of its economics differently than the Players’ Association does,” Bettman told NHL.com. “And, I think there are still a number of issues where we’re looking at the world differently. I’m not sure that there has yet been a recognition of the economics in our world, and I mean the greater world and the sports industry, taking into account what recently happened with the NFL and the NBA. And, so there is still a wide gap between us with not much time to go, but this is a process that we’re going to continue to work hard on. But, I do think it’s fair to say that the sides are still apart, far apart, have different views of the world and the issues.”

The current CBA is set to expire on Sept. 15, giving the two sides a short time to get a new deal in place before the season becomes jeopardized. Bettman told NHL.com that he is not ready to make a counter-proposal at this time.

“I’m not in a position to make a counter proposal until we see everything that they’re prepared or interested in discussing and they’re not at that point yet,” Bettman said. “I think since we started this process — [NHL Deputy Commissioner] Bill [Daly] and I met with Don and [NHLPA legal counsel] Steve [Fehr] as early as June 4, and we had a formal bargaining session on June 29 — it’s a little disappointing not to have their full slate of proposals at this point with a month to go.”

With the smell of 2004 beginning to resurface, fans may be getting weary of another potential lockout. Bettman, however, says that he understands the pressures in getting a deal done.

“I know what the game means and I know how important it is for our franchises and our game to be healthy from an economic standpoint, and we’re working very, very hard,” Bettman told NHL.com. “You know, it takes two sides to make a deal, it takes two sides to negotiate, and it takes two sides if it all goes bad. And, we’re working very hard to hopefully keep it from going bad.”

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