The NHL Thursday quickly rejected three alternate offers from the players association for a new collective bargaining agreement, and commissioner Gary Bettman said the sides were "nowhere close" to a deal.
Rhetoric or not, the lockout, which began on Sept. 15, continues with no negotiations scheduled, and the real possibility of the league canceling another slate of games, starting Oct. 25. Two weeks of games, through Oct. 24, already have been scrapped.
The impasse rests primarily on how to divide current and future revenues. In the last CBA, the players received 57 percent, and the owners want that sharply reduced.
The exact terms of the three counterproposals were not released. The NHL had hoped the union would respond more positively to its own 10-point proposal Tuesday that offered a 50-50 split of revenues and increased revenue-sharing over a six-year deal -- but with restrictions on contracts and significant escrow held back from players.
Under that plan, if approved by next Thursday, training camps would open the next day and a full 82-game season would begin Nov. 2. Now that date is in jeopardy.
Donald Fehr, the union's executive director, said that in the third of its five-year offers, the NHLPA was willing to get to a 50/50 revenue split immediately, if current contracts are honored. Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said that was "misrepresented . . . The proposal contemplated paying players approximately $650 million outside the players share" or upfront, bringing the dollars closer to 56 or 57 percent.
The proposed 50-50 split was the only one discussed in a group that included four owners and 18 players, including Sidney Crosby, and Shane Doan. Crosby said the owners treated their own proposal as "take it or leave it" and didn't want to discuss players' concepts.
Said Doan: "Usually [it's] 'Give me your money or I'm going to hurt you.' Not 'Give me your money and I'm going to hurt you.' "
"In a nutshell, it doesn't look good right now," Crosby said.