Crosby: ‘Not looking great’ season starts on time

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NEW YORK (AP) - NHL players braced for the league’s fourth work stoppage to begin this weekend, and Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby says “it’s not looking great” for the season to start on time Oct. 11.

Crosby was among more than 280 players who attended union meetings in New York that ended Thursday. NHL owners also met Thursday ahead of the expiration of the sport’s labor contract at midnight Saturday night, and Commissioner Gary Bettman plans to call for a lockout if there’s no deal by then.

Crosby says he’ll consider playing overseas if part of the NHL season is canceled. He also said “things can change pretty quickly.”

Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller says NHL Players’ Association executive director Donald Fehr is doing a far better job communicating with members than leadership did in the last lockout, which wiped out the 2004-05 season.

Nearly 300 NHL players surrounded union head Donald Fehr in a show of solidarity.

While players gathered at a hotel near Times Square, the league’s board of governors met a few blocks uptown with Bettman.

A day earlier, the sides exchanged proposals that didn’t interest each other.

“We don’t have artificial deadlines,” Fehr said. “If it comes to (a lockout), it’s a choice which was made or is being made. It’s not a requirement. It’s not something anybody has to do. If that’s the way it’s going to be, then unfortunately that’s the way it’s going to be.

“If we’re interested in trying to find a way to reach an agreement to make sure that the NHL goes forward with the players, and that the fans don’t lose any hockey games, then maybe it’s a choice that ought to be reconsidered.”

Players struck in April 1992, causing 30 games to be postponed. This would be the third lockout under Bettman. The 1994-95 lockout ended after 103 days and the cancellation of 468 games. The 2004-05 lockout wiped out an entire season and was settled the following July 13, on the 301st day of the work stoppage.

Fehr, the former head of the Major League Baseball Players Association, was hired by the hockey players two years ago.

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 during a six-year proposal. Players are concerned management hasn’t addressed the league’s problems by re-examining the teams’ revenue-sharing formula.

The owners’ latest offer Wednesday raised the percentage of hockey related revenue given to players from the previous proposal of 46 percent. Initially, the NHL sought to drop the number from the current 57 percent to 43 percent.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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