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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 February, 2005, 18:11 GMT
NHL calls time on 2004/05 season
Locked gates at Chicago's United Center
Gates remain locked at Chicago's United Center
The NHL season has been cancelled after players and owners failed to agree on a new collective bargaining deal.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman broke the news after a final deadline for resolution passed on Wednesday.

"I have no choice but to cancel the 2004-05 season - this is a sad, regrettable day that all of us wish could have been avoided," said Bettman.

This is the first time a North American professional sports league has lost an entire season due to a labour dispute.

And the Stanley Cup - the top prize in NHL - will not be awarded for the first time since 1919, when a flu epidemic forced the finals to be called off.

The NHL will persevere through this crisis - to emerge with a framework for the future, one that is fair to everyone
Gary Bettman
NHL commissioner

"We weren't as close as people were speculating," added Bettman.

"Through the decades and the generations we have faced a variety of crises and challenges - some of which seemed catastrophic at the time.

"The league persevered through all those adversities.

"And the league will persevere through this one - to emerge with a framework for the future, one that is fair to everyone - where players are fairly paid, receiving what we can afford."

Final offer

A flurry of 11th hour bargaining had offered a ray of hope that the season could be saved but in the end the two sides were unable, or unwilling, to make the concessions needed for compromise.

In the final 24 hours before the season was cancelled, it was reported that the players had accepted the concept of a salary cap, while the owners had backed down on their demand that payrolls be linked to team revenues.

But despite these developments, a deal proved to be beyond the two sides.

The owners' final offer was for a 22.5m salary cap. The players' last proposal was for 26m.

Bettman said the difference of 3.45m per team multiplied by the 30 teams added up to a total close to what the NHL lost last season.

Links to more US Sport stories


NHL set to cancel season
09 Feb 05 |  US Sport
NHL season in balance
04 Feb 05 |  US Sport
Gretzky voices fears for NHL
06 Jan 05 |  US Sport
NHL shutdown begins
15 Sep 04 |  US Sport

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