NHLPA leader says league won't compromise

NHL Players' Association president Trevor Linden is telling players to be prepared for the lockout to continue deep into next season, The Hockey News has learned.

In an audio message posted on the NHLPA's internal Web site last night, Linden said he sees no basis for further meetings with the league. The league is insisting the only solution to the lockout is with a hard individual team salary cap and is not prepared to compromise in any way, Linden said.

According to multiple sources, Linden told players the NHL refuses to discuss any payroll tax system at any level and is also opposed to real revenue sharing.

"Nothing new, nothing's changed," one player said after hearing Linden's message. "It was just made crystal clear, I guess."

"It's done, it's over is basically what Trevor was saying," said another source.

One consequence of the league's hard-line stance, Linden said, would be that young up-and-coming teams such as Tampa Bay and San Jose wouldn't be able to stay together. He warned the players that any future offer from the league that included a hard cap would be strictly a public relations move and would be rejected by the union executive.

Furthermore, Linden said he was insulted when told during the talks that players would have no more say in how the NHL is run than auto workers have say over how an auto company is run.

Linden, NHLPA senior director Ted Saskin and outside counsel John McCambridge met with NHL chief legal officer Bill Daly and outside counsel Bob Batterman for roughly 9½ hours over two days of meetings that wrapped up late Thursday afternoon. Calgary owner and NHL board of governors chairman Harley Hotchkiss took part in the first day of talks.

According to sources, Linden said the first day of meetings went well, but the second day was a step backward. Batterman is said to have told Linden that the league would use a dispersal system to shift players from high-payroll teams to low-payroll clubs in order to get all teams between the salary floor and ceiling range.

The Hockey News Material from The Hockey News.
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