Players make new proposal union outlook 'optimistic'


After a telephone conference call among union officials, their negotiating committee and player representatives from the 22 teams, the NHL Players Association presented what could be its final offer to management yesterday in an effort to resolve the 3-day-old strike.

At first it was announced the parties would meet at 8:30 p.m. at the Sutton Place Hotel in Toronto to discuss the offer. But, at 8:15, NHL president John Ziegler left the hotel saying he had been invited to dinner by union executive director Bob Goodenow.

Goodenow would not divulge specifics of the proposal, which Ziegler will take to Monday's NHL Board of Governors meeting in Manhattan.

A Newsday source said the mood in the union office after the call wasoptimistic.

Goodenow said Washington Capitals goalie Mike Liut "misspoke" Thursday when Liut said Ziegler rejected two new player proposals. Goodenow said, "We didn't make any contract proposals [Thursday]. We had exploratory discussions."

* SHARKS: Defenseman Link Gaetz's condition continued to improve, one day after he suffered head and back injuries in a car crash. It is too soon, however, to say if he will be able to play hockey again.

Gaetz, who led the team with 324 penalty minutes, was alert and responsive in the intensive care unit at Peninsula Hospital in Burlingame, Calif., a Sharks spokesman said.

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