With no collective bargaining agreement negotiations scheduled, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has lost hope for a full, 82-game season and his optimism has been shaken by the ongoing silence between owners and the locked-out players. The sides can't agree on who is to blame for the current standoff. Bettman said the league made an offer on Oct. 16 -- the publicized 50-50 revenue split that included a provision for deferred payments that would provide players with existing contracts "whole" payments. the union responded with three potential offers of its own, but NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr claimed Wednesday that all three were "shot down in 10 minutes." A Thursday deadline was set by the league as the date a new deal would need to be reached in order to complete a full regular season. "Unfortunately, it looks like an 82-game season is not going to be a reality," Bettman said. Bettman said the union is choosing not to engage the owners on their "50-50" proposal. Predictably, Fehr's position was slightly different. Bettman said the NHLPA "declined to do either" when given a chance to meet to discuss offers from both sides. Fehr said in a statement Wednesday night that players were more than willing to budge. "The players made multiple core-economic proposals on Thursday that were a significant move in the owners' direction," Fehr said in a statement. "We are and continue to be ready to meet to discuss how to resolve our remaining differences, with no preconditions. 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." Multiple reports this week indicated the NHL would cancel additional games, likely through Thanksgiving, as soon as the weekend. Soon after, the New Year's Day Winter Classic scheduled to be played at Michigan Stadium might be on the chopping block. "I'm not going to give you an exact timetable, but at some point in November we will have to commit many millions of dollars to get ready for the Winter Classic, so if there's still uncertainty, we're going to have to make a decision," he said. "And my guess is, we're not going to commit those dollars unless we have certainty."
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- Donald Fehr