Wayne Gretzky fears the NHL could be shut down for as long as two years if a new labour agreement is not reached soon.
Gretzky's club locked out its players last September
Gretzky, the NHL's all-time leading scorer and part-owner of the Phoenix Coyotes, said: "I'm scared we could be looking at a year, year-and-a-half, two years, not just three months like a lot of people thought back in September.
The NHL board of governors is to meet on 14 January in New
The league rejected a union proposal and its own counter-offer was turned down during a negotiations on 14 December. No new talks are scheduled.
Gretzky said: "From the standpoint of owners, players and fans,
everyone is disappointed there is no hockey."
He added that since the players are not paid between April and October, there may be little chance of any breakthrough during the summer on a new collective bargaining agreement.
"We're going to be back where we were last 15 September come this 15 September," he said.