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This would be the third work stoppage since Gary Bettman became commissioner in 1993.

“We’ve already damaged our business and I imagine if we go past (Sept.) 15th and we engage in a work stoppage that it will obviously do further damage to our business,” Daly told The Canadian Press.

An 11-day strike in April 1992 caused 30 games to be postponed, and a 103-day lockout in 1994-95 caused the cancellation of 468 games and delayed the season’s start until Jan. 20. The 2004 lockout started Sept. 16 when training camps were to open, as they are this year, and wasn’t settled until July 13.

“A lockout should be a last resort, but the owners are treating it as their preferred option,” Canadiens defenseman Josh Gorges said.

Fehr led the Major League Baseball Players Association through two strikes and a lockout. He said NHL players have been prepared for a work stoppage of indeterminate length.

“Players have been saving for a couple years now,” he said.

Labor law in Canada is provincial, not national, complicating a lockout. NHLPA general counsel Don Zavelo said players on the Canadiens had sent the team a “cease and desist” letter. An application will be made to the Quebec Labour Relations Board claiming that because the union isn’t certified in that province and has no right to strike, the players may not be legally locked out.

A hearing was scheduled for Tuesday before the Alberta Labour Relations Board, but canceled on Monday night. Mediator Steve Morrison was appointed on Aug. 21, but Zavelo said Morrison abandoned talks after three days rather than the 14 required by law.

“We filed objections to a lockout vote based on several defects,” Zavelo said. “They missed some deadlines and they failed to do a few things they needed to do.”

If players are successful in their challenges, they would be paid during a lockout and probably would be allowed to use team facilities.

A four-month NFL lockout ended in July 2011 with the loss of only one exhibition game, and an NBA lockout caused each team’s schedule to be cut from 82 games to 66 last season.

“What they’re trying to cure is that they’d rather have more money,” Fehr said. “If you went to a non-cap system of course you could solve all this sort of immediately, but we haven’t proposed that because we think the owners are in love with the cap system. … It’s consistent with what’s happened in the other cap sports quite apart from what the economic circumstances are in the sports. They’re all the same. The bargaining approaches are all the same.”