(Reuters) - With the threat of a National Hockey League (NHL) lockout less than a month away, the head of the players' union on Friday offered a blunt reminder that his members are not the ones interested in a work stoppage.
The NHL has previously said that if a new labor agreement is not reached before the current one expires on September 15 it is prepared to lock out players rather than operate under the old deal while carrying on negotiations.
"Nobody on the players' side is talking about stopping the season. Nobody on the players' side is talking about having negotiations go up to a certain date and then that's all," NHL Players Association (NHLPA) head Donald Fehr said during a conference call from Chicago.
"I have been in experiences before in which you play without a contract under the old rules and you continue negotiating and try and find a deal.
"We hope there isn't (a lockout), we don't think there is a reason for it. If they choose to do it you should understand it's something they chose to do."
A proposal submitted by the NHL last month showed a desire to have players give up a significant amount of salary to help stabilize the industry, but the union, who presented their offer on Tuesday, feel that would be best accomplished if the owners agreed to share greater revenue with struggling teams.
So while both sides have reached common ground on smaller issues, including player safety, there remains a significant gap with regards to the economics of a new labor agreement as many teams feel they cannot survive under the current system.
"The players made a proposal last week which we believed was designed to be both forthcoming and to allow us to bridge such gaps ... and essentially to partner with large income clubs and helping out any teams which may need it," said Fehr, who was in Chicago for regional player meetings.
"I still remain hopeful that that proposal will remain the basis for discussion as we go forward."
Formal discussion between the two sides are scheduled to resume on Wednesday in Toronto. Continued...