SUN Hockey Pool

Crucial week for NHL

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:44 AM ET

Maybe negotiators from both sides of the NHL's ugly labour dispute should have settled their differences in a no-holds-barred match at Wrestlemania XXI last night.

To this point, nothing else has worked.

Given the animosity between the parties to date, it comes as no surprise that locked-out players will not be holding their breath in hopes of an agreement when officials from both the league and the union meet in Toronto today.

Simply put, they've seen this movie before.

"The eleventh hour has come and gone," Detroit Red Wings goalie Curtis Joseph said. "If a deal couldn't get done in the eleventh hour, it's hard to tell what (urgency) there is now."

While the NHL had hoped for a counter-proposal from the players association today, sources told Pierre Lebrun of Canadian Press that none will be forthcoming from the union.

Sources added that a larger group than usual will take part in the meeting, with the addition of some owners and players as well as New Jersey Devils GM and CEO Lou Lamoriello.

The two sides haven't met since March 17 in New York, when the NHLPA was presented two proposals by the NHL, the first a team-by-team $37.5-million US salary cap deal that did not have a fixed link between player costs and league revenues -- "linkage."

The second offer was based on linkage, with player costs to take up no more than 54 % of league revenues.

The NHL gave the union an April 8 deadline -- this Friday -- to negotiate on the "de-linked" proposal, or else it will be pulled off the table and only the second proposal will remain.


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