On thin ice: Optimism lost in NHL labor talks

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TORONTO (AP) - The NHL and the players’ association agree on one thing: Thursday was a bad day at the negotiating table.

Any optimism that existed following the NHL’s offer earlier this week of a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenue was dashed when the union countered with three proposals that were quickly rebuffed.

“Thoroughly disappointed,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said Thursday after the brief bargaining session at union headquarters.

There were no smiles on the players’ side, either, as it now seems likely more games will be canceled, and a full season won’t be played.

“This is not a good day,” union executive director Donald Fehr said. “It should have been.”

No new talks have been scheduled.

The players’ association offered multiple options in response to the NHL’s offer on Tuesday that called for an 82-game season and a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenues between owners and players.

Bettman said that proposal was the “best that we could do” and added that the sides are still far apart.

“None of the three variations of player share that they gave us even began to approach 50-50, either at all or for some long period of time,” Bettman said.

“It’s clear we’re not speaking the same language.”

Bettman said he was still hopeful the league can have a full season, but time is running out to make that happen.

“I am concerned based on the proposal that was made that things are not progressing,” he said. “To the contrary, I view the proposal made by the players’ association in many ways a step backward.”

Bettman said Tuesday that the sides would have to reach an agreement by Oct. 25 for a full season to be played.

“We came in here with those proposals thinking that we could really make some progress,” Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby said. “To hear those words (from Bettman) kind of shuts it down pretty quickly. In a nutshell, it doesn’t look good.”

Fehr said two of the union’s proposals would have the players take a fixed amount of revenue, which would turn into an approximate 50-50 split over the term of the deal, provided league revenues continued to grow.

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