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“I think it’s fair to say there was no realistic expectation to avoid lockout as of developments on Wednesday and Thursday,” Daly told the AP.

Bettman has insisted that hockey management is determined to come away with economic gains, even if it forces another work stoppage. Damage is certain to occur almost immediately, and there is no telling how jilted fans and sponsors will react to another shutdown, especially if it lasts through the fall and into the winter.

Players are concerned management hasn’t addressed the league’s financial problems by re-examining the teams’ revenue-sharing formula. Having made several big concessions to reach a deal in 2005, the union doesn’t think it should have to make more this time after record financial growth.

Once the lockout was imposed in September 2004, the sides didn’t get back together until December. That stalemate was finally resolved in July 2005.

Players absorbed a salary-cap system _ the major issue then _ and took an immediate 24 percent rollback of existing contracts in exchange for 57 percent of hockey-related revenues. The NHL now says that figure is too high, and is willing to have another league shutdown to reduce that share to 49 percent to 47 percent.

Its original offer was to cut it to 43 percent, and an updated proposal raised it to 46 before another new offer pushed it a little higher Wednesday, the last time the sides met.

Instead of making a percentage-based offer, the union is seeking a deal that would guarantee players annually at least the $1.8 billion in salaries paid out last season.

Bettman said the league’s latest offer would be pulled off the table once the current CBA expired because immediate damage caused by a lockout would force the NHL to reassess what it could then offer.

Without a philosophical difference this time over the salary cap, the sides merely have to figure out a way to divide hockey revenues that grew from $2.1 billion to $3.3 billion under the expiring deal.

On Friday, the Quebec labor relations board rejected a request from the players’ association for a temporary injunction against a potential lockout in Quebec. But the board also ruled that more hearings are needed to make a final decision.

Donald Fehr took over as the head of the players’ association in 2010 after he led baseball players through three work stoppages in the 1980s and `90s.

NHL 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 most recent lockout was settled after 301 days and a month after the league would have awarded the Stanley Cup. It marked the first time a North American professional sports league lost an entire season because of a labor dispute, and the first time the Stanley Cup wasn’t handed out since 1919, when a flu epidemic prevented a champion from being crowned.