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Players offer league a new proposal in labor talks

Donald Fehr, executive director of the National Hockey League Players' Association, speaks at a news conference in New York September 13, 20
Donald Fehr, executive director of the National Hockey League Players' Association, speaks at a news conference in New York September 13, 20

(Reuters) - The National Hockey League (NHL) was given a new economic proposal by the players' association on Wednesday, though there still appeared little hope of a breakthrough to end their bitter, two-month-old labor dispute.

The union presented its latest offer while the two sides met for an hour at the league's offices in New York and were expected to get a response when negotiations resumed on Wednesday afternoon after a 90-minute break.

"At the moment we are exactly $182 million apart," NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr told reporters about the gap between the parties over a five-year deal.

"We've moved far more than halfway and our expectation is the NHL's going to be willing to meet us if they want to reach an agreement."

Fehr, representing players who have been locked out by the owners since September 15, said the NHLPA's new proposal had been based on dividing hockey-related revenue on a percentage base.

Wednesday's talks took place just two days after the two sides had met at the same venue with no progress being made in the bid to broker a new collective bargaining agreement that would salvage the season.

The NHL has already called off all games through November 30, as well as its showcase Winter Classic on New Year's Day, costing the league millions of dollars in revenue.

The work stoppage is the fourth in 20 years for the NHL, the most recent wiping out the 2004-5 season.

League owners would like to avoid long-term contracts, limiting them to five years, delay free agency until a player turns 28 or plays eight years, have two-year entry deals and limit salary arbitration until after five years of play.

They also want to reduce the players' share of $3.3 billion in annual revenue to 50 percent from the current 57 percent.

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Julian Linden)

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