NEW YORK (AP) — NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman says it looks as if a full-82 game schedule "is not going to be a reality," as the lockout nears its seventh week.
Speaking at a news conference Wednesday announcing the New York Islanders' move from Nassau Coliseum to Brooklyn's Barclays Center in 2015, Bettman seemed resigned to looking at a shortened season with the NHL and the players' association still at odds after months of negotiations.
Bettman stated, in making the NHL's most recent offer, that a deal needed to be in place by Thursday for the season to begin Nov. 2 and allow for each team to play a full 82-game slate. With no negotiations scheduled, reaching a deal in one day appears very unlikely.
"The fact of the matter is there are just sometimes that you need to take time off because it's clear that you can't do anything to move the process forward," Bettman said. "We're at one of those points right now because we gave our very best offer. That offer, for better or for worse, was contingent on playing an 82-game season. So I think things actually in some respects may get more difficult."
The players' association reached out to the NHL on Tuesday night in an attempt to set up a face-to-face bargaining session Wednesday, but the league declined. The NHL's position is if the union isn't willing to talk about the league's offer that is on the table and isn't prepared to make a new proposal of its own riffing off that offer, there is no reason to talk.
"There seems to be no interest in making any sort of deal along the lines of what we have expressed a desire and a need for," Bettman said. "Sometimes in collective bargaining you have to take a deep breath before you can move forward."
The union wants anything and everything open for discussion. Bettman wouldn't agree to those terms, so the hockey season remains in peril.
"The players made multiple core-economic proposals on Thursday that were a significant move in the owners direction," union executive director Donald Fehr said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press on Wednesday night. "We are and continue to be ready to meet to discuss how to resolve our remaining differences, with no preconditions. For whatever reason, the owners are not. At the same time they are refusing to meet, they are winding the clock down to yet another artificial deadline they created."
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