NHL labor talks between owners and players collapse

Thu Dec 6, 2012 11:50pm EST
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By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Hopes for a quick end to the National Hockey League's labor dispute were dashed on Thursday when the latest round of talks broke down.

No further negotiations were scheduled as the two feuding sides pointed the finger of blame at each other after three days of negotiations that began positively ended on a sour note.

"I am disappointed beyond belief that we are where we are tonight," said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. "We're going to have to take a deep breath and regroup."

With the sides no closer to finding an agreement, time is running out to salvage something from a season that was due to start in early October but is now in danger of being canceled altogether because of the labor dispute.

"It looks like this is not going to be resolved in the immediate future," said Donald Fehr, the Executive Director of the National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA).

Fehr's bleak forecast came just moments after he had triumphantly announced that a resolution was imminent, telling reporters at a midtown Manhattan hotel that the sides were close to agreement on most of the major issues.

He said both sides had resolved their differences over player pensions and money, one of the key sticking points, and players had presented a revised eight-year deal collective bargaining agreement which they expected the league to accept.

"(We are) clearly very close if not on top of one another in connection with most of the major issues," Fehr said.   Continued...

National Hockey League (NHL) Commissioner Gary Bettman gestures as he describes negotiations between the NHL and the NHL Players Association regarding the difficulties of their current labor negotiations in New York, December 6, 2012. The National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA) said the league rejected its latest offer on Thursday as labor talks aimed at ending the lockout unexpectedly broke off on Thursday. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson