Union chief Donald Fehr is sticking to his story that a deal with the NHL to end the four-month lockout was close before talks suddenly broke off this week.

The NHL Players' Association executive director Saturday repeated earlier remarks that an agreement appeared to be within reach Thursday night when the league rejected the union's latest proposal and rescinded its own.

"My comments from a couple of days ago stand on their own. I think we were very close," Fehr told reporters after addressing a Canadian Auto Workers council meeting in Toronto.

Fehr's comments run contrary to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who said angrily Thursday that he didn't think the owners and players were close to a deal and didn't know why Fehr claimed otherwise.

Fehr said he hasn't spoken directly with Bettman or deputy commissioner Bill Daly since talks crumbled, adding that there has been some minor chatter between the sides, but that no meetings have been scheduled.

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Daly told The Associated Press in an email Friday night that he didn't have any thoughts how to restart the process. "I have no reason, nor any intention, of reaching out to the union right now," he wrote. "I have no new ideas. Maybe they do. We are happy to listen."

Fehr declined Saturday to comment directly on remarks by Bettman that questioned Fehr's motives for saying a deal was close, saying only he was disappointed with how things turned out. -- AP