The NHL has made a new "comprehensive" contract proposal to players, the latest bid to end the lockout that threatens to force the cancellation of the entire season.
Bill Daly, deputy commissioner of the NHL, Friday confirmed reports the league had made a new collective bargaining agreement offer.
"In light of media reports this morning, I can confirm that we delivered to the Union a new, comprehensive proposal for a successor CBA late yesterday afternoon. We are not prepared to discuss the details of our proposal at this time. We are hopeful that once the Union's staff and negotiating committee have had an opportunity to thoroughly review and consider our new proposal, they will share it with the players. We want to be back on the ice as soon as possible."
Canadian sports website TSN.ca and ESPN.com reported that the offer included a six-year limit on player contracts -- up from the five years the league had sought previously, along with movement toward the players on issues including year-to-year salary variance and contract buy-out regulations.
The NHL Players Association planned an afternoon conference call to discuss the offer internally.
Owners locked out players in September after the expiration of a contract that was reached after the 2004-2005 season was wiped out by a similar bitter fight over finances.
Team owners have wiped out 625 games through January 14, just over half the planned schedule that was to have started in October, and vow they will not stage a season with less than 48 games per team.
That means a deal by mid-January is essential to salvage even a shortened season.
Players, who were paid 57 percent of $3.3 billion in revenues under the old deal, have moved closer to the 50-50 split found in other North American sports, but want owners to increase the amount of shared revenue from strong teams to bolster the fortunes of owners pleading poverty under the previous system.
Players have approved decertifying the NHL Players Association as a union to allow players to file US anti-trust lawsuits against NHL club owners, although that move has not yet been made.
In prior NBA and National Football League squabbles over money, decertifying was used as a leverage move by players to help push a compromise deal rather than have both sides undergo a lengthy court fight.