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.
_____ 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.
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."