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NHL lockout looms as talks stall

League and players’ union fail to end deadlock in latest discussions

Gulf News

New York: Labour talks between the National Hockey League (NHL) and the union representing its players broke off on Friday with both sides at odds on the core economic issues, raising the possibility of a lockout in two weeks.

With the NHL having already said it is prepared to lock out players if a new deal is not reached by the time the current one expires on September. 15, the league could be headed toward its first work stoppage since a lockout wiped out the 2004-05 season.

“What I thought was starting as a promising week ... ends in disappointment,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told reporters after meeting with the union for the third time in four days.

“We did not get a proposal from the union, call it more of a response. ... We both agreed when one of us has something to say, we will pick up the phone.”

On Tuesday, the league offered a six-year contract that it felt included significant concessions from the initial proposal it presented in July that included new contract restrictions and would have reduced the players’ share of revenue to 43 per cent.

The NHL’s latest proposal wants to cut the players’ share of hockey-related revenue to 46 per cent from 57 per cent despite enjoying record-breaking revenue of $3.3 billion (Dh12 billion) last season along with an increase in television ratings.

The NHL Players’ Association (NHLPA) presented its latest counterproposal on Friday at a meeting in New York and Executive Director Don Fehr said the offer did not bear fruit and so talks were recessed.

“We will not be discussing these issues again until there’s an indication from the NHL that they are prepared to do so,” Fehr said after Friday’s meeting, which lasted less than two hours. “And hopefully that will come soon.”

The NHL’s 82-game regular season is scheduled to open on October 11.