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Labor talks between owners and players collapse

NEW YORK: Hopes for a quick end to the National Hockey League’s labor dispute were dashed on Thursday when the latest round of talks broke down.
No further negotiations were scheduled as the two feuding sides pointed the finger of blame at each other after three days of negotiations that began positively ended on a sour note.
“I am disappointed beyond belief that we are where we are tonight,” said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. “We’re going to have to take a deep breath and regroup.” With the sides no closer to finding an agreement, time is running out to salvage something from a season that was due to start in early October but is now in danger of being canceled altogether because of the labor dispute.
“It looks like this is not going to be resolved in the immediate future,” said Donald Fehr, the Executive Director of the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA).
Fehr’s bleak forecast came just moments after he had triumphantly announced that a resolution was imminent, telling reporters at a midtown Manhattan hotel that the sides were close to agreement on most of the major issues.
He said both sides had resolved their differences over player pensions and money, one of the key sticking points, and players had presented a revised eight-year deal collective bargaining agreement, which they expected the league to accept.
“(We are) clearly very close if not on top of one another in connection with most of the major issues,” Fehr said.
But within minutes of finishing the conference, the union boss returned to the podium and announced the NHL had rejected the proposal and pulled some of their previous offers from the table.
“We were advised in a voice-mail message that the moves the players made were not acceptable, there was no reason to stay around for meetings tonight or tomorrow, that they would be in touch,” said Fehr.
Bettman later held his own conference, explaining the NHL’s position, and saying he did not know why Fehr suggested the sides were close when they never were.
“I don’t know why he did that,” Bettman said. “I found it almost incomprehensible that he did it.”