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NHL labor talks to resume Tuesday

(MCT) — Bill Daly, the NHL’s deputy commissioner, hinted Monday that the league may be willing to make the next offer in a labor battle with players that has caused the first two weeks of the season to be canceled.

The Big Four — NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and Daly, and players’ union executives Don and Steve Fehr — are scheduled to meet Tuesday in Toronto.

In the NHL’s latest proposal, made about a month ago, the players would receive 49 percent of the hockey-related revenue in the first year of a proposed six-year collective-bargaining agreement. The players would receive 48 percent in the second year and 47 percent in the last four years.

The players had requested 53 to 54 percent of the revenue.

The NHLPA has not countered the owners’ last proposal. The league has repeatedly said it wants the players’ union to make the next move.

If the players’ union doesn’t make a counter-offer, will the NHL continue to sit back and wait, or would it make another proposal to spur some action?

“We obviously feel there is an urgency to get to an agreement and to save our season,” Daly said in an e-mail to The Inquirer. “So while not ideal, we will have to keep all options open on how to best proceed.”

That sounds as if the NHL is growing tired of waiting around for the NHLPA.

Having missed their first pay checks on Monday, NHL players may have a bit more urgency as their union goes back to the bargaining table. Then again, the players are scheduled to receive escrow checks this month that will pay them 8.5 percent of their 2011-12 salaries. For the NHL’s average salary of $2.5 million, that translates to a little more than $200,000.

Unless something dramatic happens in the next few days, more games are expected to be wiped out by the end of this week.

The hope is that economic issues — the core of the labor stalemate — will be discussed Tuesday, Daly said in an e-mail. He added that if they are not discussed Tuesday, the league wants to work toward getting them to the bargaining table soon.

By the way, the NHL commissioned a focus group, led by top Republican strategist Frank Luntz, to aid its lockout public relations campaign, it was reported by Deadspin.

Briere, Giroux excel. Flyers teammates Danny Briere and Claude Giroux, who used to be housemates in Haddonfield, N.J., are off to impressive starts for Germany’s Eisbaren Berlin. They have combined for 13 points in two games, with Briere collecting three goals and four assists, and Giroux notching a goal and five assists.

Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov is 1-2 for CSKA Moscow, compiling a 3.01 goals-against average and .897 save percentage in the KHL.

Phantoms update. The Adirondack Phantoms, who have nine players on their roster who spent time with the Flyers last season, are off to a 1-1 start and don’t play again until Friday in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

Brayden Schenn leads the Phantoms with two goals; he has played mostly on a line with Sean Couturier (two points) and Matt Ford. In the third period of Sunday’s 4-0 loss in Springfield, Zac Rinaldo replaced Ford on that unit.

Schenn had both of his goals in the Phantoms’ season-opening 6-3 win over visiting Portland before a sellout crowd of 4,801 on Saturday.

Perhaps the biggest surprise thus far: Rinaldo has no penalty minutes in two games. He was second in the NHL with 232 minutes last season.

Adirondack’s Harry Zolnierczyk, who played in 37 games with the Flyers last season, took a stick to the face in the second period Sunday and left the game. He did not return, but a Phantoms official said the injury was not serious.

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