NHLPA to respond Friday

NEW YORK -- The NHL Players' Association will take another day before responding to the league's latest labor proposal.

The union is expected to issue a response to the NHL's second offer when the two sides reconvene for labor talks Friday in Manhattan.

Although NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr said Wednesday he was "optimistic" the sides would meet Thursday, the union asked for an additional day before countering the league's proposal, submitted Tuesday.

"We're hopeful that it's a meaningful proposal that we can continue to make progress from," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said. "We feel like we made a good step in that direction earlier this week and we hope that they would take a step forward as well."

The NHL's latest offer featured concessions from its initial proposal -- made July 13 -- although the two sides don't seem to agree on how significantly it deviates from the original one.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman called the new proposal a "meaningful" move, although the NHLPA insisted that the suggested financial concessions, albeit different from the original requests, still require the players to undertake too hefty a burden.

By the NHL's calculations, the latest offer represents a concession of $460 million from the league, although the sides still have not agreed on a definition of hockey-related revenue, among other things.

The league's original proposal asked for a decreased players' share of revenue from 57 percent (where it currently stands) to 43 percent. According to the NHLPA's calculations, the latest proposal features a cut to 46 percent.

The league's second proposal also didn't ask for any salary rollbacks. However, it likely would result in a significant increase in escrow. The union projects that escrow would rise to 15-20 percent; the NHL projects it would rise to 12-13 percent. The players paid 8.5 percent in escrow in 2011-12.

Daly did not know whether the NHLPA's proposal will be based on the league's latest proposal -- the NHL based its on the union's last submission -- but said format wasn't an issue.

"We're not married to the structure," Daly said. "If it's a good proposal and it takes a different route, we're open to that."

With a little more than two weeks until the collective bargaining agreement expires, the core economic issues still present the most significant philosophical and practical road blocks to a new deal being reached. The league already has stated its intent to lock out the players if a deal isn't reached by Sept. 15.

"Obviously, the clock is ticking," Daly said. "We're almost into September now. I would say the positive thing is that both parties are committed if there are reasons to meet, to continue to move forward, to meet as often as it takes to get it done.

"But obviously every day that goes by, it's less and less likely that we'll be able to come to closure on all the issues we need to come to closure on."