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NHL’s deadline expected to pass without deal; league may announce cancellations Friday

The NHL’s deadline to have a collective bargaining agreement in place in time to play a full 2012-13 season is expected to pass quietly Thursday. 

There won’t be a deal, that much is certain. The two sides aren’t talking and there are no meetings scheduled. And just as they didn’t comment when the lockout began on Sept. 16, the NHL likely won’t comment on the expiration of Thursday’s deadline, according to Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly. 

Wednesday night, NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr released a statement in response to comments from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Daly about the loss of a full season, criticizing the owners for creating “another artificial deadline.”

“The players made multiple core-economic proposals on Thursday that were a significant move in the owners direction. We are and continue to be ready to meet to discuss how to resolve our remaining differences, with no preconditions,” Fehr said in a news release. “For whatever reason, the owners are not. At the same time they are refusing to meet, they are winding the clock down to yet another artificial deadline they created.” 

The league could announce round of cancellations as early as Friday, though, and the Winter Classic and All-Star Game may be on the chopping block soon as well. When speaking to reporters in Brooklyn on Wednesday, Bettman wouldn’t give an exact timeline as to when the league would need to decide about staging the 2013 Winter Classic.

“At some point in November we will have to commit many millions of dollars to get ready for the Winter Classic,” Bettman said. “So if there’s still uncertainty, we’re going to have to make a decision. My guess is we’re not going to commit those dollars unless we have certainty.”

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