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Lockout looming after NHL labor talks break off

February 16. 2013 8:53PM
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NHL labor negotiations are at a standstill after talks broke off on Friday, significantly raising concerns the league is two weeks away from its fourth labor dispute in 20 years.

Negotiations that were scheduled to resume in New York next week are now in limbo after NHL Players' Association executive director Don Fehr announced that the league had asked that talks be "recessed."

The latest development came after the union presented its latest proposal during negotiations at the NHL headquarters in New York. The league has threatened to lock out its players once the current collective bargaining agreement expires on Sept. 15.

"Unfortunately, so far at least," Fehr said, "that proposal we made today did not bear fruit."

For the first time since talks began in late June, NHL officials began expressing concern as to whether a deal can be reached to avoid a disruption of training camps.

"I think that today was clearly a setback," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly wrote in an email to The Associated Press. "It's going to be tough to get something done in time to open camps unless or until the union changes its position and indicated a willingness to move off of its current proposal, which it was clearly not prepared to do today."

Daly added: "Hopefully, the union and the players will re-evaluate where we are, and where they are willing to go in the coming days."

The regular season is set to open Oct. 11, but that is now uncertain given the tenor or negotiations.

The NHL has already had three labor disputes since April 1, 1992, when players held a 10-day strike which forced 30 games to be rescheduled. The most memorable and disruptive breakdown in labor talks came during the last negotiations, which led to the entire 2004-05 season being wiped out.

The NHLPA's latest offer came three days after the NHL made its first counterproposal on Tuesday. After asking the players to cut their share of hockey revenue from 57 to 43 percent, the NHL upped its proposal to have the players get a 46 percent share over a six-year deal.

The union revised its initial offer by proposing to restructure the fourth and final year of its initial offer.

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