NHL owners vote to set lockout deadline
Offer in effect until midnight, and no new talks scheduled to try and avert stoppage
Commissioner Gary Bettman received a unanimous vote from the NHL owners in support of a lockout of the players if the two sides can't reach a deal by midnight tonight (US time).
Neither side appears to be willing to budge, making it unlikely that better proposals from the owners or the players union will be presented before the new collective bargaining agreement deadline arrives.
Training camps are scheduled to open on September 21 and the season is supposed to start on October 11.
The owners say their latest offer will be in effect until midnight tonight and Bettman said they could take a harsher stance with the players if the lockout is allowed to go ahead.
There were no negotiations on Thursday and no new talks are scheduled to try and avert the NHL's fourth stoppage in 20 years.
"Looking back in hindsight, it looks like there was no urgency on the part of the players' association to engage or get anything done," Bettman said. "It's happened over the summer.
"I can't and won't speculate as to why that would be their intention, but it is what it is. If you look at the record and you look at it in hindsight, I think it is crystal clear."
On Wednesday, Bettman said his side's latest offer was "intended to lead to a deal before the weekend". He added the proposal would be "off the table" if this deadline passes.
Bettman stated all 30 owners voted unanimously that a season could not begin without a new collective bargaining agreement.
The league originally demanded that the players drop their percentage of current league revenues from 57 per cent to 43 per cent.
Since then the league has reduced its proposal to 47 per cent. The NHL Players Association's (NHLPA) last offer was for the players to reduce their take to 52.7 per cent.
Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby said he isn't confident a deal is going to get done very soon. "Right now it's not looking great," said Crosby, "but things can change pretty quickly."
Crosby doesn't believe the owners aren't as willing as the players to get a deal done.
"Right now the two sides are pretty far apart," Crosby said. "We are really happy with the proposal we have. We think it is fair. It is a partnership at the end of the day."