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NHL Lockout: Sides $182 Million Apart, Says Donald Fehr

Negotiations to end the NHL lockout just cannot sustain any momentum.

Talks broke down Wednesday afternoon and NHLPA head Donald Fehr said there was “no movement” on the major issues. Translation: It does not look good, still.

Earlier, players gave management a new proposal that the union said left sides less than $40 million apart annually over a five-year contract. That’s about $180 million.

Wednesday was the 67th day of the lockout. More than a quarter of the regular season already has been canceled.

No date for the next bargaining session was set.

After a day away from bargaining for internal discussions, union officials and nine players were at the NHL office for an hour Wednesday. There was little optimism. The NHLPA scheduled an internal players’ conference call for 5 p.m. ET Wednesday.

“We did give them the proposal,” Fehr said. “They indicated they’re going to have a response to us a little later on.”

Fehr added that players made a percentage-based proposal and said it reflected the economic impact the work stoppage had caused.

“We have moved far more than halfway,” Fehr said. “It is about as good as we can do.”

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman on Oct. 16 proposed a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenue. With guaranteed contracts likely to push the players’ share over the halfway mark originally, management wants that money to come out of future years to bring the overall percentage down to an even split over the length of an agreement.

Players previously had proposed they receive a guaranteed amount of income each year.

“Gary said we were $900 million or $1 billion apart,” Fehr said, referring to the gap over a five-year deal. “At the moment we are exactly $182 million apart.”

The NHLPA offered to accept the NHL’s proposed 50-50 split of hockey-related revenue right from the first year of a deal, NHLPA sources told ESPN.com.

However, the NHLPA proposal calls for the “make whole” provision to go up from the $211 million the NHL offered two weeks ago to $393 million, the sources said.

The NHLPA’s latest proposal was the result of a major push by the moderates in the union’s membership to submit a new offer, a source told ESPNNewYork.com.

Those players, the source said, stressed the importance of moving off the guaranteed player amount featured in previous proposals and moving to the NHL’s preferred percentage-based division of revenue. The move was an attempt to get the two sides “speaking the same language” so as to expedite a deal, the source said.

A source confirmed to ESPNNewYork.com that the breakdown on the “make whole” payments through Years 1-4 (deferred by one year) is as follows: 2012-13: $182 million; 2013-14: $128 million; 2014-15: $72 million; 2015-16: $11 million.

One interesting feature of the NHLPA’s offer is that, beginning in Year 2, the players’ share in dollars cannot be lower than the previous year. That protects the players from both the potential devaluation of the Canadian dollar and a possible decline in revenue, thereby shifting the risk onto the owners.

The league has canceled 326 games through Nov. 30, plus the Jan. 1 Winter Classic between Toronto and Detroit at Ann Arbor, Mich.

This is the league’s fourth work stoppage in 21 years and third lockout since 1994. The previous lockout led to the cancellation of the 1994-95 season.

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