Sides won't budge; lockout less than 48 hours away

  • Updated: September 14, 2012 - 7:43 AM

Said Zach Parise: Gary Bettman "really loves his lockouts."

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NHL commissioner Gary Bettman speaks to reporters after meeting with the NHL Players' Association representatives during a news conference at NHL headquarters

Photo: Mary Altaffer, Associated Press

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The NHL labor dispute remained deadlocked Thursday with no new negotiations, but the rhetoric certainly got more pointed.

At a hotel in Manhattan, the NHL Board of Governors gave Commissioner Gary Bettman a unanimous vote supporting his promise to call a lockout when the current collective bargaining agreement expires at midnight Saturday.

"We've been rebuffed at every turn," Bettman said of negotiations with the NHL Players' Association. "If you look at the numbers, we've made very dramatic movement, and the response has been nothing."

Across town at another hotel, the Wild's Zach Parise, one of almost 300 players attending a union meeting, was asked about Bettman's negotiating style.

"He really loves his lockouts," Parise said.

This will be the third that Bettman has called since he became commissioner in 1993.

Dozens of players, including Sidney Crosby, Henrik Lundqvist, Zdeno Chara and Daniel Alfredsson, stood behind Donald Fehr, the union's executive director, as he spoke.

"Less money, fewer rights," Fehr said, summing up the union's view of the league's contract offer. "I think everyone understands why the owners would like that. I think every employer would like that. I have a more difficult time understanding why anyone would expect the players to make an agreement on that basis."

The players, who get 57 percent of league revenues under the expiring agreement, were offered 43 percent in the owners' initial proposal, and then 46 percent. On Wednesday, Bettman and Jeremy Jacobs, the Boston Bruins' owner, raised the league's offer to 47 percent.

The union's two proposals have left the players' share at about 53 percent of revenues, but there are many other points of dispute.

NEW YORK TIMES

Wild makes moves

The Wild assigned more than 20 players to its American Hockey League affiliate Thursday.

Among those reassigned to the Houston Aeros were defenseman Marco Scandella, who played 63 games for the Wild last season, and prospects Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle, Jonas Brodin, Matt Hackett, Brett Bulmer, Johan Larson, Jason Zucker and Zack Phillips.

Drew Bagnall, Brian Connolly, Chay Genoway, Carson McMillan and Jarod Palmer were placed on waivers. If they clear Friday, they will be assigned to Houston.

Jared Spurgeon, Stephane Veilleux and Jake Dowell were not placed on waivers, and therefore won't play in Houston during the anticipated lockout, and 2012 first-round pick Matt Dumba must play in Red Deer of the Western Hockey League.

Fox Sports North might televise some Aeros games during the lockout. Otherwise, FSN is preparing a package of "classic" Wild games.

The Aeros begin training camp Sept. 28. The Wild is hoping to have the first 2 1/2 days of Aeros camp at Xcel Energy Center, but the NHL might not allow it.

MICHAEL RUSSO

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