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NHL’s proposal brings ray of hope

Commissioner Gary Bettman (right) described NHL’s latest proposal as ‘‘50/50 across board’’ but unitook issue with details. | AP

Commissioner Gary Bettman (right) described the NHL’s latest proposal as ‘‘50/50 across the board,’’ but the union took issue with the details. | AP

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Updated: November 18, 2012 7:14AM

As good as the NHL owners’ 50/50 proposal sounded and might have looked when it was announced Tuesday, there was no way the NHL Players’ Association was going to accept it immediately and end the lockout.

Upon reviewing it, the players won’t accept it all.

If anything, the hope is that the offer will be a starting point for successful negotiations. But there still are certain aspects of the NHL’s latest offer — despite the pleasant-sounding 50/50 split of hockey-related revenue — that are contentious for the players. A source said the NHL’s proposal calls for a six-year collective-bargaining agreement with an option for a seventh year.

‘‘Certainty it’s a large move off their original offer or offers,’’ Blackhawks defenseman and NHLPA representative Steve Montador told the Sun-Times. ‘‘Certainly it’s change, and that’s a step toward the positive. We want to work off something like that in terms of our proposal to get something new here that we can both live with. Hopefully it’s a starting point, but it’s not something we can live with at the moment.’’

Considering the league originally proposed cutting the players’ share of revenue from 57 percent to 43 percent and wanted to impose numerous changes to contract rights, what commissioner Gary Bettman presented the NHLPA on Tuesday can be called the NHL’s best offer to date.

Bettman said the NHL’s goal was to start the season Nov. 2 ‘‘to preserve a full 82-game season.’’ He also described the proposal as ‘‘50-50 across the board’’ and said ‘‘there is no rollback’’ of players’ salaries.

But the details weren’t as good as Bettman’s pitch. Players took issue with numerous aspects of the proposal, including the NHL changing what constitutes hockey-related revenue.

‘‘What we learned from the negotiating meeting was that there was a number of changes to HRR definitions that we regressed on because we already agreed upon the old definition after they tried to change it the first time,’’ Montador said. ‘‘And that’s not something we’re interested in.’’

Montador said there were ‘‘other player contracting changes . . . that we had already said weren’t in our interest to be part of’’ included in the proposal.

‘‘There’s a handful of things we weren’t in favor of, and the [changes to the] entry-level system is the biggest one,’’ Montador said.

The NHLPA is expected to meet Wednesday to discuss a counteroffer.

‘‘There’s some optimism there, but we’ve got a whole lot of horses moving here,’’ Montador said.

NOTE: Current and former Blackhawks and other NHL players will be part of a charity game called ‘‘Champs for Charity’’ on Oct. 26 at Allstate Arena. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Andrew Ladd, Troy Brouwer, Adam Burish, Brian Campbell and Kris Versteeg are among those who are expected to take part.

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