The NHL contends that the union has submitted the same proposal multiple times without moving in the league's direction. The union says it has agreed to come down from receiving 57 percent of hockey-related revenues to a 50-50 split. The league wants that to go into effect in the first year of the agreement, while the union wants to get there gradually.
Back in 2005, after the entire 2004-05 season was lost to a lockout, the players' association accepted a salary-cap system for the first time and feels it shouldn't have to bear the brunt of the concessions now after league revenues reached a record high of over $3 billion last season.
"In '04, the gap was huge," said Rangers forward Brad Richards, who attended last week's bargaining sessions. "Very frustrating. Didn't expect to go on this long, didn't need for it to go on this long. They want to create this view that we're so far apart. Only one way to get a deal done. That's the only tactic they know."
Richards organized a benefit skate Friday to help in the relief efforts on Staten Island after Superstorm Sandy, and was joined by several of his teammates. Richards, who signed with the Rangers last offseason, and led them to the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference last postseason partnered with a high school team to organize "Skating for Sandy."
This 62-day lockout has claimed 327 regular-season games, and hope of a new deal and the start of the already-shortened season — likely of 68 games per team — on Dec. 1 has been dashed.
Rangers forward Marian Gaborik sees little benefit in taking a break from negotiations.
"I don't know what his mindset is," he said about Bettman.
It is more than just finances preventing a deal. The disagreements over player contract terms have emerged as just as big an impasse.
The NHL wants to limit contracts to five years, make rules to prohibit back-diving contracts the league feels circumvent the salary cap, keep players ineligible for unrestricted free agency until they are 28 or have eight years of professional service time, cut entry-level deals to two years, and make salary arbitration after five years.
Players missed their third pay day of the season Thursday, and the clock is ticking toward more losses. The 2004-05 season was canceled in February. A lockout in 1995 ended in January, leading to a 48-game schedule.
"Different," Gaborik said about this lockout. "The union is much stronger. We have a leader we believe in."
AP freelance reporter Denis Gorman contributed to this report.