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NHL Draft Is Casualty Of Labor Dispute

Friday, March 25, 2005; Page D02

A month after the NHL's labor dispute forced the cancellation of the 2004-05 season, the 2005 entry draft fell victim yesterday to the seven-month standoff between the owners and players.

The draft had been scheduled for Corel Center in Ottawa on June 25-26, but it cannot be held in the absence of a collective bargaining agreement, NHL Executive Vice President Bill Daly said in a statement.

_____ From The Post _____
Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky take part in six-hour meeting between NHL and players' union but no deal is reached.
Commissioner Gary Bettman officially cancels the NHL season.
There is speculation about where the league goes from here and whether it can survive.
Michael Wilbon: There's no question the league and its owners won this particular battle.
The cancellation may work to the Capitals' advantage in time.
Q&A: What's next?

_____ On Our Site _____
Audio: The Post's Thomas Heath discusses the end of the season.
Video: Bettman announces the cancellation of the season.
What's Your Opinion?

_____ Lockout At a Glance _____
NO SEASON: The NHL season was canceled Feb. 16 over a lockout that started before training camps opened last September. It's the first major North American sport to lose an entire season to a labor dispute.
THE REASON: The NHL and the players' association couldn't resolve how to split revenues from the $2 billion industry. The league demanded a salary cap, but by the time the players agreed to that, it was too late to work out how much the cap would be.
WHAT'S NEXT?: The NHL could seek the declaration of an impasse, which allowing it to implement its last offer, open training camps in September and invite players back. The players' association would likely respond with a strike.

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Daly apologized to the city of Ottawa, the fans and "to everyone who already had put so much time and effort into creating a memorable weekend for the players and their families."

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman scrapped the season on Feb. 16, then quickly initiated a new round of talks with the players' union in the hopes of striking a deal and saving the draft. But last week's talks failed to move the negotiations forward.

If a deal on a new collective bargaining agreement is struck in the near future, a draft could be held via conference call. But there's a problem: Without a season, how does the league determine draft order? Considering Canadian phenom Sidney Crosby -- widely considered to be the best talent in a generation and a virtual lock to be the top pick -- is available, draft order is something in which all 30 teams have a keen interest.

The NHL made two proposals to the players last week, one that included a link between league revenue and player salaries, and one that did not. The players were not impressed by the offers but did not reject them. It's believed the players could be working on a counterproposal.

-- Tarik El-Bashir

© 2005 The Washington Post Company