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Bettman Expected to Scrap NHL Season

Tuesday, February 15, 2005; Page D02

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has scheduled a news conference in New York for 1 p.m. tomorrow, where he is expected to officially cancel the 2004-05 season.

With more than 824 games, including the All-Star Game, already scrapped, Bettman said the league and players' union needed to be drafting a new collective bargaining agreement by Sunday in order for there to be a 28-game season and the usual four rounds of playoffs

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is expected to cancel the 2004-05 season tomorrow, which would mark the first time since 1919 that the Stanley Cup is not awarded. (J.p. Moczulski -- Reuters)

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The NHL has awarded the Stanley Cup every year since 1893, with the exception of 1919 when the finals were wiped out by a flu epidemic.

The two sides met with U.S. federal mediators in Washington on Sunday, but no progress was reported.

NHL Executive Vice President Bill Daly met for several hours yesterday with Ted Saskin, the senior director of the NHL Players' Association. At 10:30 p.m. the NHL issued a statement saying "no progress" was made during the session and that no further comment would be made last night.

The owners and players have been deadlocked since Sept. 15, when the owners locked out the players because the union failed to agree to a new system that strictly limited player salaries and benefits to a percentage of overall league revenue.

The union opposes any system the prevents players from earning top dollar.

The owners say they have lost $500 million over the last two years and $1.8 billion over the last decade. The owners said they need the new system in order to know exactly what their future labor costs will be, allowing them to eventually pare the losses and turn a profit.

-- Thomas Heath and Tarik El-Bashir

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