The NHL and its players are meeting in Toronto this week. There have been a lot of meetings going on, four days in New York last week alone.

But at this point it's probably a stretch to call them negotiations. That would imply there are two sides speaking the same language, trying to find common ground.

It has been exactly one month since NHL commissioner Gary Bettman presented the union his vision of what the NHL should look like in his proposal for a new collective bargaining agreement with the players. It's a retreat to a simpler time.

The owners want to pay the players less; keep control of them longer and limit the length of the contracts they do sign.

The owners' vision of the future of the NHL is like it is now, but with a cheaper, less mobile work force.

The players aren't thrilled, to say the least.

"The owners' proposal seemed a little far-fetched to me, personally," said Toronto Maple Leafs player representative David Steckel.

So far-fetched that the NHLPA hasn't bothered to make a counter offer, and they won't.

On Tuesday, NHLPA executive director Don Fehr is going to meet with Bettman and pretend the owners' offer never happened.

According to sources with the PA, instead of trying get the league's proposed wage rollback of 24 per cent down to 12 per cent or get free agency from 10 years to seven, where it stands currently -- instead of negotiating against themselves, in other words -- the PA has a grander vision in mind.

The expectation is that Fehr, having played it coy even as the expiration of the current CBA on Sept. 15 comes ever closer, will instead present the owners with his own vision of how the industry should be shaped.

"Some people interpret a counter proposal to be 'this is within the framework of what the other guy said' -- It just moves some things around," Fehr said after a two-hour bargaining session in Toronto Monday. "This is a different kind of an approach. It's how the players see the world."

Details weren't available, but the broad strokes are clear:

The NHL's hard salary cap, a concession earned by locking out the players for a season in 2004-05?