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A new plan in works

Compromise offers hope in NHL talks

NEW YORK -- When NHL labor talks resume, a new plan will be up for discussion that attempts to blend elements from both sides' vision of how players will be paid.

Negotiations will probably resume next week, during which a new, hybrid concept -- which addresses the relationship between player costs and league revenues -- will be brought to the table, a source close to the negotiations told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity yesterday.

The NHL has maintained that it prefers a link tying player costs to league revenues, while the union has mostly rejected that idea. This new, mixed plan would appear to incorporate elements from both concepts.

Previous compromise discussions have failed to yield signs of progress toward ending the lockout that began seven months ago.

It was thought that talks would resume this week, but as of yesterday there was still difficulty in scheduling a meeting, the source said. Next week's likely bargaining session would come at a busy time for the NHL, which already has a board of governors meeting planned for Wednesday.

The last bargaining session, held April 4 in Toronto, went better than others since the 2004-05 season was canceled in February. NHL chief legal officer Bill Daly said there was now a good understanding across the table of where the sides are and that he was hopeful there would be continued progress.

On March 17, the NHL made two proposals to the players' association -- one containing a link between player costs and league revenues, and another without the relationship. But the "de-linked" offer had a short shelf life, and the deadline for the union to accept that kind of deal expired last Friday. The latest unlinked proposal set each team's salary cap at $37.5 million. The linkage offer limited player costs to 54 percent of the league's revenues.

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