The National Hockey League Players Association and owners made collective bargaining contract offers yesterday in Toronto and final settlement on a new contract could come today. The current agreement ends Sept. 15.

"I'm more optimistic about an agreement than I have been for the last six months," Alan Eagleson, executive director of the association, said. "We presented new proposals with some adjustments and they have made an offer we will study tonight.

"The players are happy with the owners and their attitude. The word 'strike' was not mentioned all day."

The Detroit Red Wings, with 12 head coaches in 15 years, now have entrusted the job to Nick Polano, Buffalo Sabres' assistant coach who coached at Erie (AHL) for six years after a 15-year playing career as a minor league defenseman.

"A team that hates to lose will win a lot of games," Polano, 41, said of the Red Wings, who were 21-47-12 last season, second-worst record in the NHL. Polano said he observed that in two out of three games in which Buffalo played Detroit, "the Red Wings had a chance to win, but they just gave up."

Detroit's recently hired general manager, Jimmy Devellano, said Polano will get a three-year contract.