Why are the NHL and the NHL Players Association at odds?

It's money. Team owners say players' salaries consume about 75 percent of every dollar that the league earns, which caused 20 of the NHL's 30 teams to lose $224 million last season, according to the league. The owners want the percentage players are paid capped at something far lower, perhaps closer to 50 percent. The players, who say more owners are profitable than the league claims, are opposed to their income being set at a percentage of league revenue. They prefer a market system that allows owners to pay whatever they want for a player.

What is a lockout?

It's when a labor contract expires between a union and management and management then refuses to allow the union members to work until a new labor contract is in place. The employees are "locked out" of the work place. Players do not collect a salary during a lockout.

What is a salary cap?

It's an agreement on the percentage of league revenue that is devoted to players' salaries, which is enforced by imposing minimum and maximum payrolls on each individual team. The NHL would like each team to cap its player payroll at somewhere around $31 million. The players oppose any salary cap.

How long could the lockout last?

A long time. The NHL Players Association, headed by executive director Bob Goodenow, and the owners, represented by Commissioner Gary Bettman, are deeply divided and there is little trust between the two sides. The players and owners have stockpiled war chests for a protracted lockout. Some fear the entire 2004-05 season could be lost.