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The NHL appears ready to cover more of the costs of those deals as opposed to making them part of the players' share of revenue in future years. In its most recent offer last month, the NHL said it would honor the current contracts in deferred payments, but those would be included in the players' share of revenues.
The union balked at that offer.
The labor dispute, which began Sept. 16, has forced all games from Oct. 11 through Nov. 30 to be called off. It isn't known if any of those games will be rescheduled if the sides come to an agreement soon, but an NHL deadline has already passed that would have allowed for each team to play all 82 games. The season needed to start by Friday for that to happen, but the only hockey activity that day was the cancellation of the outdoor game at Michigan Stadium between the host Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs.
There is a sense of urgency now because nearly two months of the season have already been called off. If a deal isn't reached soon, the NHL could be looking at its second lost campaign since 2004.
In its most recent proposal, the NHL offered the union a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenue, which exceeded $3 billion last season, but that offer was rejected. The players responded with three offers that went nowhere.
The NHL offer was pulled back because it was contingent on the league playing a complete season.
Players earned 57 percent of revenue in the recently expired contract, in which a salary cap was included for the first time. Owners sought to bring that number below 50 percent this time before their most recent offer.
This is the third lockout in Bettman's tenure as commissioner. The first forced a shortened 1994-95 season, and the second led to the cancellation of the entire 2004-05 season -- the only time a major North American professional sports league lost a full season to a labor dispute.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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