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A Step Back: Gary Bettman, NHL ‘Thoroughly Disappointed’ By NHLPA Counteroffer

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Gary Bettman (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Gary Bettman (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS/AP) — Just about any and all optimism created from the NHL’s offer to the players this week seems to be gone, after NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told reporters in Toronto that he and the league are “thoroughly disappointed” by the counteroffer made by the NHL Players’ Association.

After the league issued an offer that included a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenue, the players’ offer in response never “even began to approach 50-50.”

“It’s clear we’re not speaking the same language,” Bettman said, calling the counteroffer a step backward in negotiations. ” I am concerned we are not progressing.”

“This is not a good day,” union executive director Donald Fehr said. “It should have been.”

Progress appeared to be made on Tuesday when the NHL’s offer was made. Though the league was still proposing players give up 7 percent of the 57 percent of the hockey-related revenue they’re currently getting, the proposal at least indicated the owners were willing to come down from their high demands over the summer. That proposal also included the preservation of a full 82-game regular season, which could begin on Nov. 2.

Two days later though, very few will be talking about Nov. 2 as a realistic starting date. Bettman said the meeting with the NHLPA lasted only an hour on Thursday “because there was really nothing there.”

“I don’t know what the next step is,” Bettman said. “I’m obviously very discouraged.”

Fehr said two of the union’s proposals would have the players take a fixed amount of revenue, which would turn into an approximate 50-50 split over the term of the deal, provided league revenues continued to grow.

The third approach would be a 50-50 split, as long as the league honored all existing contracts at full value.

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly disputed the union’s assessment of that offer.

“The so called 50-50 deal, plus honoring current contracts proposed by the NHL Players’ Association is being misrepresented,” Daly said. “It is not a 50-50 deal. It is most likely a 56- to 57-percent deal in Year One and never gets to 50 percent during the proposed five-year term of the agreement.”

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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