The NHL's chief legal officer blasted the players' association yesterday for turning the last two days of contract negotiations in Ottawa into a "charade" as the sides try to reach a labor agreement with a Sept. 15 deadline looming.

"I'm extremely frustrated with where we are," said Bill Daly, the NHL's executive vice president and chief legal officer. "They are not negotiating. We are talking about things we've talked about ad nauseum."

Daly said the union has not made a constructive proposal for reaching a new labor agreement between the owners and players since June 2003.

The NHL is expected to lock out the players Sept. 16 if the owners do not have a labor agreement in place that sets player salaries as a direct percentage of total NHL revenue. The league has said it loses more than $300 million a year and needs to control player salaries to turn a profit.

NHLPA senior director Ted Saskin said the union isn't going to talk about a hard salary cap that ties player salaries to a percentage of league revenue. The union is trying to advance the negotiations through a process that involves going through an examination of each club and the challenges they face, he said.

"We want to work on common areas of understanding," Saskin said. "We all understand that the cap that they have had on the table is not going to lead us anywhere. So we have to find other ways to address the situation."

-- Thomas Heath