Depending on who was asked last week, the message was either the sides were close to a deal or nowhere near one.
Players’ association executive director Donald Fehr said Thursday night, after three straight days of negotiations, that he believed an agreement was close, only to change his position moments later when the NHL rejected the union’s most recent offer.
Bettman disagreed that a deal was near and then angrily announced the league was rescinding every offer it had put on the table since the start of negotiations.
The NHL and the players are trying to avoid the loss of a full season for the second time in eight years. The 2004-05 lockout, that eventually produced a salary cap for the first time in league history, was the first labor dispute to force a totally canceled season in North American professional sports.
The season was called off Feb. 16, and an agreement was reached on July 13. The lockout ended nine days later, after the deal was ratified by both sides, allowing for the following season to begin on time. That agreement reached then was in place until this year, and the current lockout began right after its expiration on Sept. 16.