NHL Players Association leader Donald Fehr said Friday the players are ready in case owners lock them out if a new collective bargaining agreement is not reached by Sept 15. Fehr spoke on a conference call with reporters after meeting with about 40 players over the last two days at a hotel near O'Hare International Airport in Chicago. He will also have similar meetings with players next week in British Columbia and Toronto. Fehr said he does not know if there will be a lockout, and whether there is or is not depends on the owners. "I wish I knew the answer to that, too, because I've got about 730 or 750 guys out there that would like to know the answer to that," he said. "All I can tell you, and all I can tell the fans, is that nobody on the players' side is talking about stopping the season. Nobody on the players' side is talking about saying we'll have negotiations up to a date and then that's all. "I have been in experiences before in which you play without a contract under the old rules and continue negotiating and try to find a deal. And so I think your question needs to be addressed not to me, but to the representatives of the owners. We certainly hope there isn't (a lockout). We certainly don't think there's a reason for it. If they choose to do it, you should understand it's something they chose to do." The two sides did not appear to make much progress in the Toronto negotiations earlier in the week. The players had proposed a three-year deal in which players would accept a reduced share of hockey-related revenue of about $465 million over the term and that a "more aggressive" revenue-sharing system would force the wealthiest teams to subsidize struggling ones of up to $250 million a season. That is an increase from the current $170 million. The players' proposal also includes retaining the hard salary cap. The three-year deal includes a reversal option for a fourth year in which the CBA could revert to the current terms if the owners opt for it. The union's proposal does not include the elimination of the salary cap and calls for no changes to player contracts. The owners want to reduce the players' share of hockey-related revenue from 57 percent to 46 percent. Negotiations are scheduled to resume in Toronto on Wednesday.
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By The Sports Xchange August 17, 2012 6:40 PM