Continued from page 1

“From our perspective, this is a nonissue and a nonstory,” Daly said Tuesday in an email to The Associated Press. “There is nothing _ legally or otherwise _ that precludes club personnel from communicating with their players.”

More important is the lack of productive talks between NHL officials and union leaders. Now it seems unlikely that a full season, which was slated to start Nov. 2, will take place.

Last week, the NHL's most recent contract offer was presented to the union and then publicly released in full. The union returned to the bargaining table last Thursday with its various counterproposals, which also would get to an even split of hockey revenue, but each was quickly rejected by the league.

There is a major divide between the sides over how to deal with existing player contracts. The union wants to ensure that those are all paid in full without affecting future player contracts.

After the NHL released its offer on Wednesday, club officials were given until Friday to speak to players and answer questions they might have about the proposal.

In an internal league memo obtained by The Canadian Press, the NHL stated that those discussions must be limited to the contents of the proposal on the table. It also provided examples of questions that shouldn’t be asked of players and noted that straying from the rules could “cause serious legal problems.”

“You may not ask (a player) what he or others have in mind,” the memo stated. “If he volunteers what he has in mind you should not respond positively or negatively or ask any questions but instead refer him to the NHLPA.

“Likewise, you may not suggest hypothetical proposals that the league might make in the future or that the league might entertain from the union.”

This was the first time club officials were permitted by the NHL to talk to players since the lockout took effect Sept. 16.