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Saturday, May 21, 2005

nhl- Pressure On

from Bruce Garrioch and the Ottawa Sun, The NHL is putting heat on the NHL Players' Association to get a collective bargaining agreement in place by threatening to halt negotiations next month.
Two league sources told the Sun yesterday that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has warned union boss Bob Goodenow the league wants a new deal by mid-June or there "may be no point in having a season."
While the NHL hasn't threatened to cancel next season, Bettman has told the players the NHL will suffer severe damage in season tickets and sponsorship agreements if the two sides don't sign a deal soon.
Sources say it's possible the NHL could break off talks with the union, offer a $31-million US salary cap and refuse to negotiate any further until the NHLPA accepts it.
"The league just doesn't think there would be much sense in continuing to negotiate," said a well-placed NHL source.
There was also word major sponsors -- possibly Ford, Sony and Molson -- have told the NHL they may take their business elsewhere next season if there's no deal by June 15.
That may explain why the NHL and the union spent 22 hours in talks over the last two days in New York.
NHL vice-president Bill Daly said in a statement yesterday that the two sides ''made progress on some of the key issues pertaining to a new economic system. While we have not yet been able to reach agreement on those issues, we remain committed to continuing the process in earnest until a new (CBA) can be achieved."
The word is the players are getting antsy to reach a deal.
"There's a lot of pressure on both sides to make something happen here," said a league source. "Both sides want to get back to work because there really isn't much sense in having this lockout stretch into a second season."