NHL, union discuss economics, plan more talks

NEW YORK -- Before the NHL and the players' association can agree on a new economic system, there must be a clear understanding of how teams report their finances.
Much of Thursday's five-hour meeting was spent on how teams
determine how much money they make -- or lose. The meeting capped
three days of talks that involved little true negotiating.
The owners and locked-out players immediately made plans for
another three days of talks next week. The sides will convene in
smaller groups on Tuesday and Wednesday in advance of a full group
bargaining session Thursday.
For the first time, the sides formally discussed the findings of
Arthur Levitt, the former securities and exchange commission
chairman who was hired by the NHL to conduct an independent study
into the league's finances.
Levitt's report, released in February 2004, revealed losses of
$273 million during the 2002-03 season on revenues of $1.996
billion, which he said threatened the NHL's viability.
"We provided a detailed overview of the Levitt Report and the
work that was performed underlying that report,'' NHL chief legal
officer Bill Daly said.
The union challenged Levitt's findings when it was released, and
players' association executive director Bob Goodenow has called the
report "simply another league public relations initiative.''
Levitt found that only 11 of 30 teams were profitable in
2002-03, but the union doesn't trust the financial figures that
teams report.
That will still be a topic of discussion next week as the sides
continue to work toward a new collective-bargaining agreement.
"We completed three days of meetings on competition and
economic issues with the league,'' players' association senior
director Ted Saskin said. "An additional three days of CBA
discussions have been scheduled next week, with the first two days
dedicated to reviewing economic and financial reporting issues.''
On Wednesday, a previously unscheduled meeting day, the league
and the union branched out into other discussions, such as the
potential formation of a competition committee that would be
comprised of player and team representatives.
Detroit Red Wings forward Brendan Shanahan, who held his own
rules summit in December, was invited to take part in those
Thursday marked the 10th bargaining session since commissioner
Gary Bettman called off the entire 2004-05 season on Feb. 16.