Proposal in the works?

NHL chief legal officer Bill Daly (right) stopped by the Toronto Sun yesterday to take questions...

NHL chief legal officer Bill Daly (right) stopped by the Toronto Sun yesterday to take questions from reporters Mike Zeisberger and Lance Hornby (left). (Toronto Sun/Mark O'Neill)

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:24 AM ET

What Bill Daly thinks will come out of today's player agents' meeting in Chicago and what he hopes to occur are two very different animals.

The National Hockey League's senior vice-president and chief legal officer was asked his prediction on today's gathering in Chicago of about 60 prominent agents, who will be briefed by Players Association executive director Bob Goodenow today.

During an interview at The Toronto Sun yesterday, Daly said he's heard rumblings that the players are preparing a new proposal, but aren't necessarily ready to unveil it today. If the players eventually present something, perhaps at their tentative meeting next month here, Daly said he might be prepared to move off the league's six proposals from earlier this year that the union has dismissed as forms of a salary cap.

"I can come up with a seventh, I just need a starting point," Daly said.

While Daly does not expect a big shift today, union sources denied a new proposal is being put together by the players.

"What you'll probably see is similar to what came out of the player meetings a couple of weeks ago," Daly said of the rank and file's show of unity in Toronto. "What really goes on behind closed doors is really between the players associations and the agents and the players. But I hope at some point in the near future that as a result of their internal discussions that they will see an opportunity to get serious about these negotiations and make us a proposal to address the issues we've identified and that they're aware of."

Union sources have insisted no new proposal is being put together by the players.

He was also asked if the agents can be a force for change.

NO EXPECTATIONS

"My experience with agents is not direct experience. They're (usually) on the periphery of strategy and decision making. But having said that, they're close to what goes on in the industry, they have relationships with their players and the players are principals in this."

Agent Mark Gandler expected a thorough update today, not to hear state secrets.

"The most important thing for us is to share information with our clients and serve as a liason," the New Jersey-based Gandler said. "I don't expect anything earth-shattering. Bob and the negotiating committee have a plan, but I don't expect to come away knowing 100% of that plan. You have to keep things close to the vest, even from the agents, because that's the only way to conduct business.

"In negotiations, agents often keep things from the players, their families or even their wives for their own good.

Gandler insisted the players are not getting overly concerned about missing three pay cheques so far.

"Everyone involved on the players side of this knew it would be a long stoppage," he said. "If we'd been playing today it would have been a big surprise. Believe me, they would like to be out there doing the thing they love. But I have a lot of clients playing in Europe and that has made things easier on them."

More than 100 agents were invited but about 60 are expected. Canadian Press reports most agent firms had decided to send one representative per organization. Those in attendance include heavy hitters Don Baizley, Don Meehan, J.P. Barry, Pat Morris, Pat Brisson, Rick Curran and Michael Gillis.

But Calgary-based Art Breeze said today should not be described as "high-profile" talks.

"Those words belong exclusively to the players, not the owners and not the agents," Breeze said.


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