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NHL, PLAYERS GETTING READY TO TALK AGAIN

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The NHL and its players' union are ready to talk again.

And this time, commissioner Gary Bettman is expected to respond to a players' tax plan targeted at helping small-market teams.The talks reportedly will take place Tuesday in New York, following up Friday's negotiations there.

Bob Goodenow, executive director of the NHLPA, was continuing his visits to NHL teams Sunday to brief players on the state of negotiations. He wasn't available for comment.

Players have proposed a complex 5 percent tax on salaries and gate receipts which they say would raise $35 million for small-market teams.

League officials are skeptical about the $35 million figure, fearing it would be significantly less. They feel small-market teams such as Winnipeg and Quebec would not benefit significantly.

The players' proposal, which could end a stalemate in contract talks, was reportedly made Friday during a five-hour session in New York. A follow-up meeting was held Saturday between Bettman and Goodenow.

The NHL and NHLPA have been without a collective bargaining agreement for more than a year. Players expect the NHL to lock them out if a CBA is not signed by Oct. 1, when the regular season is scheduled to begin.

The NHL has proposed a tax system of its own, seeking to fine teams that exceed a set payroll and then pass the money along to teams which stayed under the proscribed amount.

Sources say the tax would be dollar for dollar for up to $4 million over the set payroll and 50 cents for every dollar above $4 million over the set payroll.

Players have rejected the proposal, saying the tax is just another way of capping salaries.