Bettman: NHL lockout is possible

Posted: August 11, 2012

NEW YORK - With time running out on NHL labor talks, commissioner Gary Bettman cautioned Thursday that the league is prepared to lock out its players if a new collective bargaining agreement is not reached by Sept. 15, when the current deal expires.

"Time is running short, and the owners are not prepared to operate under this collective bargaining agreement for another season, so we need to get to making a deal and doing it soon," Bettman said after the two sides met at the league headquarters.

When asked whether Sept. 15 is a hard deadline, Bettman said: "Our efforts are going to be devoted to trying to make a deal."

Saying a "wide gap" still existed between the two sides on numerous issues, Bettman added the potential for a lockout is something the NHL Players' Association has been aware of for much of the last year.

NHLPA executive director Don Fehr referred to the split as "a meaningful gulf."

The NHLPA head did not have an immediate response to Bettman's comments, because he spoke before the commissioner made himself available to reporters. Fehr said the union is open to continuing talks beyond Sept. 15 and entering the season under the current system.

The NHL is proposing to cut players' share of revenues from 57 percent to 46 - and that percentage drops to 43 when taking into account revenues the NHL deems should not be shared with players. That would translate into as much as a $450 million shift in revenue in the owners' favor.

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