NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly says the owners and players are both to blame for their failure to reach a new collective bargaining agreement before the Saturday deadline for a work stoppage.
Daly wrote in an email to The Associated Press that he hoped both sides would meet before Saturday.
"But to this point, we have received no indication that the union has anything new to say to us. And right now, we have nothing new to say to them," he wrote Tuesday. "It's unfortunate, but it's the reality of the situation."
The NHL's labour contract expires at midnight Saturday night, and a lockout appears certain. It would be the league's fourth work stoppage since 1992.
"Ultimately, we just want to negotiate a fair deal that will give all our clubs an ability to be stable and healthy," he wrote. "We hoped [and still hope] we can do that without causing any interruption to the upcoming season. Logic would have suggested we would have been able to. The fact that we haven't yet is extremely disappointing, and is a failure for which we both must share blame."
More than 250 players are set to attend the NHLPA meetings Wednesday and Thursday here to discuss the current state of CBA negotiations.
The board of governors will meet Thursday at the NHL offices here and could authorize Commissioner Gary Bettman to proceed with a lockout on Saturday if a new collective bargaining agreement hasn't been reached.
Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask, understandably, doesn't sound optimistic.
"I hear November, December and New Year's," he said Monday at Boston's annual golf pre-camp golf tournament. "But no one really knows."
Donald Fehr, who took over as union head two years ago, said his players are resigned to a work stoppage, which would follow lockouts last year in the NFL and the NBA. Many of those players will gather in Manhattan this week in this off-season's biggest show of force. Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby, one of the league's biggest stars, is one of them. He skated on Tuesday with some of his Penguins teammates in suburban Pittsburgh and expects to be in New York on Wednesday.
Industry revenue has grown from $2.1 billion to $3.3 billion annually under the expiring deal. Owners asked players to cut their share of hockey related revenue from 57 to 43 per cent, and then modified their offer to 46 per cent during a six-year proposal. Players are concerned management hasn't addressed its problems by re-examining the teams' revenue-sharing format.
The sides haven't had a full bargaining session since Aug. 31 and the strife is threatening regular-season openers scheduled to start Oct. 11. The preseason schedule is set to begin on Sept. 19.
An 11-day strike in April 1992 caused 30 games to be postponed, and a 103-day lockout in 1994-95 caused the cancellation of 468 games and delayed the season's start until Jan. 20. The 2004 lockout started Sept. 16 when training camps were to open, as they are this year, and wasn't settled until July 13.