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NHL labor negotiations break off

They were reduced to quibbling over who decided to call a recess.

That pretty much tells you how things transpired Friday in what was a relatively brief negotiating session between the NHL and the NHL Players’ Assn. in New York.

There are no new talks scheduled. The collective bargaining agreement in place is due to expire on Sept. 15, and the league has said it will lock out players if a new agreement isn’t in place by that date.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told reporters after Friday’s meeting that the league was “stonewalled” by the NHLPA. He also implied that there was a lack of urgency on the side of the union.

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“I’m disappointed. We offered to talk a year ago,” he said in a media briefing, adding that the first negotiation session didn’t take place until June 29.

Donald Fehr, the executive director of the union, said the players'  counter-proposal to the league owners’ offer was rejected and that the league had opted to recess talks on Friday. Bettman would not go as far to acknowledge the union’s proposal, calling it a “response,” and disputed the “recess” characterization as unfair and inaccurate.

The frustration was widespread.

Jamal Mayers of the Chicago Blackhawks tweeted his discontent on Friday: “I would love to be in the [NHL] BOG [Board of Governors] meeting next week as Bettman tries to explain not negotiating off the PA’s offer that helps21+teams#justashame”

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Europe, of course, will be an option for some players, just like it was when an NHL lockout wiped out the 2004-05 season.

Scott Norton, the agent for Dustin Brown, said that there was interest in the Kings captain from a team in Switzerland.

But any possible plans to go to Switzerland are on hold -- for now.

“Right now, we’re just going to sit it out and meet next week and see what happens and re-address it then,” Norton said Friday.


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