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Volume 24 No. 117
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     The NHLPA on Friday presented Commissioner Gary Bettman with
what the union believes is a "last best hope" for a Collective
Bargaining Agreement before the start of the season, October 1st
(Mark Everson, N.Y. POST, 9/17).  The NHLPA proposal involves a
complex 5% tax on salaries and gate receipts which the players
contend would raise $35M in added revenue for small-market teams.
But leagues officials said they are skeptical, "fearing" that it
does not provide enough revenue sharing for small-market teams
such as Winnipeg and Quebec (CANADIAN PRESS/TORONTO SUN, 9/19).
NHLPA president Mike Gartner labeled the proposal as a "very
novel idea": "We've looked at their concerns, such as the
difference in revenue between big and small market teams, and
tried to address them" (CP/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 9/17).
     STILL LOOKS LIKE A LOCKOUT:  Despite the recent talks,
speculation remains "rife that a lockout would likely last into
December" (N.Y. POST, 9/17).  Lightning GM Phil Esposito: "If we
don't get an agreement, there will be a stoppage. ... We refuse
to get into a baseball scenario" (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 9/18).  In
Boston, Kevin Dupont writes: "They aren't going to find a cash-
flow formula in less than two weeks" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/18).  Talks
are expected to resume in New York tomorrow, at which time
Bettman will respond to the NHLPA proposal (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/19).
     PRE-EMPTIVE STRIKE?  NHL management was "shaken" Friday by a
rumor that the NHLPA plans to strike before the season begins
October 1.  An "upset" NHL official explained that the players
were considering a strike because of the rollbacks that Bettman
had imposed early this month.  But the NHLPA denied any strike
rumors (N.Y. POST, 9/17).
     SMOKE SCREEN?  "There are many players who feel the salary-
cap issue is a smokescreen for the owners' real target" of salary
arbitration.  Speculation has arisen that the owners plan to
offer concessions on the NHL's restrictive free agency system in
hopes of eliminating arbitration permanently.  But Gartner
indicated that the players will be unwilling to bend on the issue
of salary arbitration (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/17).
     WILL PLAYERS CRACK ON ROOKIE CAP?  Oilers Player Rep Kelly
Buchberger on Friday suggested that the players would be willing
to agree to a cap on rookie salaries to resolve the dispute