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NHL Talks Break Off; No Progress Reported

By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 5, 2005; Page D09

Talks between the NHL and the players' association broke off yesterday after a four-hour meeting in New York, pushing the 2004-05 season to the brink of being canceled due to the 4 1/2 month-long labor dispute.

The union said no progress was made; the league characterized the session as "extensive and constructive." The NHL also refuted a media report quoting an anonymous owner who said the season would be canceled soon.

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But with 775 of 1,230 regular season games scuttled, the chances of games being played this season would appear to be slim.

The main stumbling block remains the same -- the NHL wants to link salaries to league-wide revenue; the players have refused to accept a salary cap.

This latest round of talks began Wednesday with the players rejecting the owners' latest salary cap proposal and was followed by a nine-hour bargaining session Thursday, the longest negotiation to date. No further talks had been scheduled as of last night.

"The parties agreed to stay in touch but there's really no progress to report of any type," Bob Goodenow, the union's executive director, told reporters as he left the meeting. "That's the reality."

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