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NHL and Union to Meet in Effort to Solve Labor Dispute

Times Staff Writer

The NHL and the NHL Players’ Assn. will meet Monday, sources close to both sides said Wednesday. The union requested the meeting and is expected to present at least one proposal to resolve the labor dispute that led to the cancellation of the season.

At their last meeting, March 17 in New York, the union rejected two proposals from the NHL. One would have imposed a $37.5-million salary cap on each team and would not have linked salaries to revenues; the other would have linked salaries to revenues and set a maximum for player costs of 54% of NHL revenues.

Players have opposed linking salaries to revenues because they believe owners don’t accurately report revenues and because they expect the league’s revenues to decrease.

They’ve suggested revenue sharing as a tool to help small-market clubs, but the NHL’s revenue-sharing plans have fallen short of the scope needed to lift clubs with few resources closer to equal footing with stronger rivals.

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Since the last meeting, the NHL filed a charge with the National Labor Relations Board challenging the union’s reported practice of requiring any player who receives benefits from the union during the lockout to repay that money if the player decides to become a replacement player.

The NHL contended such a requirement would be coercive and a violation of players’ rights under the National Labor Relations Act. Players are getting $5,000 to $10,000 a month during the lockout.

The NHL is poised to file another charge, concerning the union’s reported threats to decertify agents who represent replacement players or players who agree to play without a collectively bargained labor deal.

The NHL requested information from the union and had not filed a charge by late Wednesday.

NHL general managers will meet in Detroit on April 7 and 8 to discuss rule changes that would promote scoring, such as increasing the size of the nets. The NHLPA has been invited to the meeting.

Also, the NHL’s Board of Governors will gather in New York on April 20 for an update on labor negotiations from Commissioner Gary Bettman.

Should no agreement be near, the NHL probably will begin formulating plans to use replacement players next season.


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