After Wednesday's negotiating session, in which the NHL dismissed the union's initial proposal, Fehr set off for prescheduled player meetings in Chicago. The union boss also will oversee a session with players in Kelowna, British Columbia, before returning to Toronto to resume CBA discussions Aug. 22.
At that point, the league and the union will have just 24 days remaining to reach a new agreement and avoid a lockout. The current CBA runs out on Sept. 15. The regular season is slated to begin Oct. 11.
"What the issues are and how they get solved and how deep the issues go are something that we're not yet on the same page," Bettman said Wednesday.
In simple terms, the owners want to pay players less - much less. Despite the fact that the NHL's revenues grew from $2.2 billion before the 2004-05 lockout to $3.3 billion last season, a number of teams still are struggling. The financial success of the wealthiest franchises over the last seven years ended up hurting the poorer ones.
That's because the salary cap was tied to overall hockey-related revenues and rose dramatically from $39 million in 2005-06 to $64.3 million last season, bringing the salary floor (the minimum teams must spend) up along with it. If next season was played under the current system, the cap would have been set at $70.2 million and the floor would have been $54.2 million.
Under the owners' proposal - issued in July - the players' share in revenue would be cut from 57 percent to 43 percent and would include a change in the way the salary cap is calculated. The salary cap would drop to $50.8 million next season, which is below where the floor now rests.
The NHLPA estimated the league's proposal would cost players about $450 million per season.