- Associated Press - Monday, September 10, 2012

NEW YORK (AP) - As hockey prepared for its first work stoppage since the 2004-05 season was wiped out, the NHL Players Association planned to challenge a lockout before the labor board in Quebec.

A hearing before Alberta’s board was canceled the night before when the NHL withdrew, The Canadian Press reported.

The moves, if successful, could force teams to pay players on the Montreal Canadiens, Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers during a work stoppage.

The sport’s labor contract expires at midnight Saturday night, and a lockout appears certain. It would be the league’s fourth work stoppage since 1992.

Donald Fehr, who took over as union head two years ago, said his players are resigned to a work stoppage, which would follow lockouts last year in the NFL and the NBA.

“A lot of them think that pure and simply they were taken advantage of last time and the owners want to take advantage of them again,” he said during an interview Monday at the union’s New York office. “It sorts of looks exactly what happened in hockey the last time and exactly how it played out in basketball and football so far. But I hope not.”

Industry revenue has grown from $2.1 billion to $3.3 billion annually under the expiring deal. Owners asked players to cut their share of hockey related revenue from 57 to 43 percent, then modified their offer to 46 percent during a six-year deal. Players are concerned management hasn’t addressed its problems by re-examining the teams’ revenue-sharing format.

The sides haven’t had a full bargaining session since Aug. 31 and the strife is threatening regular-season openers scheduled to start Oct. 11.

“It seems to be the direction things are going, but there’s still time if they want to talk,” Fehr said.

None of the Boston Bruins who attended a charity golf tournament in Bolton, Mass., on Monday were optimistic that the full season could be salvaged.

“I hear November, December and New Year’s,” Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask said. “But no one really knows.”

Asked if anyone was talking about October, he said: “No.”

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly dismissed the provincial challenges in Canada.

“This is a joke,” he said in a statement.

About 200 players are expected to gather in New York on Wednesday to discuss negotiations _ or rather the lack thereof. NHL owners meet in New York the following day.

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