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"If indeed they do not want to meet, it will be at least the third time in the last three months that they have shut down the dialogue, saying they will not meet unless the players meet their preconditions. What does that tell you about their interest in resolving this?"
The sides put on a push to make an agreement last week when they met over six consecutive days in New York. However, Friday's session ended with a heated exchange, and talks lasted only about an hour on Sunday.
The 61-day lockout has already claimed 327 regular-season games, including the New Year's Day outdoor Winter Classic, and more could be wiped out within a week. It is believed that an agreement would need to be in place by the end of next week for the season to get under way on Dec. 1.
That is starting to look unlikely because of the mere fact that the sides are unable to find common ground on the big issues keeping them apart. It is more than just finances preventing a deal. The disagreements over player contract terms have emerged as just big an impasse.
The NHL wants to limit contracts to five years, make rules to prohibit back-diving contracts the league feels circumvent the salary cap, keep players ineligible for unrestricted free agency until they are 28 or have eight years of professional service time, cut entry-level deals to two years, and make salary arbitration after five years.
A few hours into last Friday's session, negotiations broke down over the core economic differences that separate the sides.
A lockout wiped out the entire 2004-05 season.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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