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National Hockey League, players 'very far apart'

Representatives of the NHL and the players union have reached a new low: They can't even agree on how negotiations are progressing.

The sides did not meet on Tuesday _ the 59th day of the lockout _ but their leaders' statements show vastly different interpretations of the labor talks.

Bill Daly, the NHL's deputy commissioner, said in an email to The Inquirer on Tuesday that the sides are "very far apart."

Steve Fehr, special counsel to the NHL Players Association, implied that a labor deal may not be far off while attending a sports management conference in Toronto on Monday.  Fehr said the labor dispute can be wrapped "very quickly" once the sides make a breakthrough in negotiations.

Both Fehr and Daly say they are "open" to having a mediator help reach common ground.

Pressed on why there has been a delay in hiring one, Daly said, "I guess the simple answer is that neither side has felt that the introduction of a mediator would help the process. We haven't discussed it, though, for a couple of months now."

Asked, in a follow-up email, why that wasn't the case, Daly did not respond.

A mediator was used prior to the NBA's labor settlement last year.

In an email exchange with CSN, Daly claimed the union was asking for 65 percent of hockey-related revenue in the first year of the new collective bargaining agreement.

On Tuesday, Daly was asked to elaborate.

"The players are asking for guaranteed dollars and a 'raise' year over year," he said.

Daly added that no future meetings with the NHLPA were scheduled at this point.

Meanwhile, NHL players continue to head overseas. The latest Flyer is defenseman Bruno Gervais, who will play in Germany.

More than 200 NHL players are being paid to play in Europe. Coupled with former NHL players now in the AHL - and the fact that players received escrow checks recently that paid them, on average, a little over $200,000 - there does not appear to be much urgency from their side.

The sides appear close to settling the amount the teams will provide for revenue sharing, but they have numerous other issues, including the maximum length of contracts, years needed to get to free agency, and how to divide hockey-related revenue, which reached a record $3.3 billion last season.

In order to start the season Dec. 1, it is believed a collective bargaining agreement will have to be in place by Nov. 20 to give players time to return from Europe and have a one-week training camp.

NHL games through Nov. 30 have been canceled.

Contact Sam Carchidi at Follow on Twitter @BroadStBull.