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NHL labour talks on hold as lockout approaches fifth week

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

NEW YORK, N.Y. - NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman still hasn't spoken to players' union chief Donald Fehr since a brief meeting Wednesday, but negotiators on both sides are back in contact as the lockout drags on.

There was no meeting Friday, after two straight days of negotiations at the league's New York office, and there are no current plans for more bargaining to take place.

"We've talked. There is nothing scheduled," NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told The Associated Press in an email.

Frustration is building on both sides as the lockout approaches its fifth week. The first regular-season games were missed Thursday night—one week after the first 82 contests were wiped out—and Staples Center in Los Angeles will have to wait for the Kings' Stanley Cup championship banner to be raised to the rafters.

The Kings were supposed to honour their first title-winning club Friday night before hosting the New York Rangers.

All games through Oct. 24 have been called off, and more cuts are expected soon with no new labour deal in sight.

The sides finished two days of negotiations Thursday that again centred on secondary issues such as drug testing, contracts and other legal things, instead of talks about the core economics of the sport that is fueling the lockout.

The league and the union did little to close the gap keeping them from a deal, and the likelihood of any hockey being played in October is quickly fading.

After five hours of talks at the league office on Wednesday, the sides got back together for nearly as long—in two sessions—on Thursday.

Daly estimated the NHL lost $100 million from the cancellation of the entire preseason and would be out another $140 million to $150 million with the regular-season losses.

The NHL still says it is waiting for a new proposal from the union, with the owners adamant players accept a significant drop from the 57 per cent of revenue they received under the salary cap in the last contract. The players don't want what they consider massive cuts at a time when the overall revenue pot reached record numbers ($3.3 billion) last year.

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