After soaking in the Olympic atmosphere for a few weeks, Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin is back to business as he plans to attend the ongoing labor negotiation hearings between the NHL and the NHL Players' Association (NHLPA) Tuesday in Toronto.
"Sucks to hear Bettman say they will lock out," Ovechkin tweeted Monday, referring to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman's statement last week that the league will lock out its players if a new collective bargaining agreement is not reached by Sept. 15, the current deal's expiration date.
Tuesday could be an important day; the NHLPA is expected to present its first counter-proposal to the NHL's original offer made last month that calls for a dramatic cut in players' share of revenue from 57 percent to 46 percent. The NHL's first offer also seeks the elimination of salary arbitration and the reduction of the length of players' contracts to a maximum of five years, among other things.
Last week, Bettman said that there was a "wide gap" between the league and the players on several issues, which NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr reiterated, describing the current state of negotiations as a "meaningful gulf."
Fehr has previously discussed the possibility of playing the 2012-13 season while talks continue, but the league and its team owners, based on Bettman's hardline response, are not interested in that proposal as it would not be advantageous to them.
The NHL is only eight years removed from a lockout that ultimately cancelled the entire 2004-05 season. If the 2012-13 season is indeed locked out, it will be the third under Bettman's watch; the 1994-95 season was shortened due to labor unrest.
The season is scheduled to begin October 11. The Caps open the following day against the New Jersey Devils at Verizon Center.
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