The National Hockey League appears headed for a lockout, with the current labor accord set to expire tonight and no formal talks planned between owners and players.
It would be the second time in the past seven seasons that owners locked out players following the expiration of a collective bargaining agreement. The previous lockout resulted in the loss of the entire 2004-05 season and the first year since 1919 that the Stanley Cup wasn’t awarded.
The NHL and its Players’ Association last met on Sept. 12, when both sides rejected fresh proposals. Those talks were followed by separate meetings in New York, after which league Commissioner Gary Bettman and union Executive Director Donald Fehr criticized the other side for impeding progress.
“If you are dedicated to the negotiating process, you can move this along quickly,” Bettman told reporters on Sept. 13. “If for whatever reason you’re not interested in making a deal, you drag it out.”
Fehr questioned whether or not the owners’ approach was “reasonably calculated to lead to an agreement as opposed to a dispute.”
There’s no legal requirement for a lockout in the absence of a new agreement, because the sides can continue to operate under the old accord while negotiations proceed. The players have said they’re willing to compete while talks continue.
Negotiations, which began during the offseason, have focused mainly on player compensation and revenue sharing.
Under the current agreement, the players receive 57 percent of hockey-related revenue. The NHL’s most recent proposal was a gradual reduction to 47 percent; under the union’s latest offer, should league revenue grow at the same rate as in the past 10 years, the players’ share would fluctuate and remain above 52 percent.
-- Editor: Rob Gloster
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