Commissioner Gary Bettman said he remains solely focused on making a deal after Wednesday's meeting with the NHL players' union geared toward establishing a new collective bargaining agreement. The two-hour session included no bargaining or counter-proposals, leaving only the NHL offer communicated in a meeting Friday in Toronto as the lone deal on the table from either side. Players were taken aback by the initial offer. However, executive director of the players' union Donald Fehr said the players are open to discussions as long as the conversation remains healthy. "I think the overall (player) reaction to the kind of reductions that are contemplated ought to be obvious," Fehr said. The first proposal targeted a huge reduction in the take players receive of total league revenue. Currently, the NHL takes 43 percent of revenue and players receive 57. The new proposal from the NHL asks players to accept only 46 percent of revenues. Fehr said Wednesday's informational sitdown was needed to allow the NHL to provide an explanation of Friday's proposal and indicated the players might not counter, but rather provide a proposal of their own in the coming weeks. The union is said to be concerned about finances of multiple teams and wants the league to include some form of expanded revenue sharing. Reports persist that a lockout could be looming if an agreement -- or some progress -- isn't reached early next month. Fehr said there's no reason for either side to consider drastic measures at this time. "Somebody has to choose to shut it down," he said. "At the moment, I see no reason to do that from the players' side. Hopefully, they won't either."
- Donald Fehr