The National Hockey League said Sunday morning that a settlement with the players will be attainable "through sensible, focused negotiation -- not through rhetoric."
The league made the announcement on its website, NHL.com. It imposed a lockout of its players after negotiations with the NHL Players Association were at a standstill when the collective bargaining agreement ended at midnight ET Saturday.
"This is a time of year for all attention to be focused on the ice, not on a meeting room," according to the unsigned memo. "The League, the Clubs and the Players all have a stake in resolving our bargaining issues appropriately and getting the puck dropped as soon as possible. We owe it to each other, to the game and, most of all, to the fans."
The lockout was the league's fourth work stoppage since 1992.
Owners unanimously voted to support a lockout, and no new negotiations have been scheduled.
The owners imposed the Saturday deadline, and Commissioner Gary Bettman has long stated that the league had no intention of operating another season under the current CBA terms. The regular season is slated to begin Oct. 11 and training camps are due to open next week, but those plans are all on hold.
The 2004-05 work stoppage wiped out the season. In order to end that impasse, the players accepted a salary-cap system and a 24 percent rollback of existing contracts in exchange for 57 percent of hockey-related revenues.
At issue now is Bettman's contention that hockey management wants economic gains and that the 57 percent figure is too high, while the NHLPA believes the revenue-sharing formula needs to be reexamined and that the players should not be asked to make further concessions. The league's first offer was a reduction to 43 percent of hockey-related revenues, although that has since risen to at least 46 percent in recent negotiations. Meanwhile, the players are seeking a deal that would guarantee at least the $1.8 billion in salaries paid out in the 2011-12 season annually, according to multiple reports.