The Washington Times - October 24, 2012, 09:17PM

NHL Players’ Association executive director Donald Fehr said Wednesday that the league is unwilling to meet in advance of a deadline to complete a new collective bargaining agreement in time for an 82-game regular season.

Commissioner Gary Bettman said last week the owners and players would need to get a deal done by Thursday (Oct. 25) in order to get a full season in. There have been no formal talks this week.

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“The players made multiple core-economic proposals on Thursday that were a significant move in the owners direction. We are and continue to be ready to meet to discuss how to resolve our remaining differences, with no preconditions,” Fehr said in a statement. “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.”

There are now rumors circulating that the NHL All-Star Game and Winter Classic could be canceled soon. More than likely, a significant slate of regular-season games will go first, possibly as soon as Thursday or Friday.

Bettman noted that the NHL’s latest offer was contingent on an 82-game season. Now, that seems like wishful thinking.

“The union has chosen not to engage on our proposal or to make a new proposal of their own,” he said Wednesday in Brooklyn. “So unfortunately it looks like the 82-game season is not going to be a reality, although the clock has a little bit of time to run. And things seem to be not progressing as we would like, and we’re disappointed”