SUN Hockey Pool

Just stick a fork in it

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 10:16 AM ET

They haven't pulled the plug on the NHL season yet. But it's only a matter of time now. The two sides in the NHL's labour dispute shut down talks yesterday after a second day of negotiations in New York, with NHL Players' Association executive director Bob Goodenow saying there was "no progress" to report.

Sources say the two sides discussed different concepts, but the meeting broke up abruptly when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told the union unless it was willing to discuss a cap, there was no point in continuing discussions. That was enough for Goodenow, who stormed out and headed back to Toronto to inform the players he's tried everything to get the season going and doesn't hold out hope.

"We met the last couple of days, tried to cover some issues and maybe a few new issues to see if there was a possibility of some common ground and some traction," said Goodenow. "That isn't the case. The parties agreed to stay in touch but there's really no progress to report of any type. That's the reality."

Now, the season hangs in the balance, but the league denied reports it will be cancelled in the next 48 hours. There was speculation the league's board of governors could be summoned to New York on Tuesday for an update.

"We had extensive and constructive talks over the past two days," said NHL VP Bill Daly in a statement. "While there are no future meetings scheduled, we have have agreed to keep the lines of communication open.

"Despite several media reports to the contrary, we have no intention of making any further announcement relating to the collective bargaining or the status of the season at this time."

A league source insists Bettman won't officially cancel the season because it could hurt his attempt to declare an impasse in September and bring in replacement players.

'GET IT OVER WITH'

"They should just cancel it and get it over with," said free-agent defenceman Curtis Leschysyhn, who spent last season with the Senators. "The owners have to come to the realization that we're not going to take a salary cap."

It's unrealistic to suggest there could be a season at this point.

"That's it as far as I'm concerned," said Senators winger Martin Havlat from Prague. "I was kind of hoping that we could be playing in North America, but I just don't see it happening this year. We're not going to take the salary cap.

"That means guys are just going to focus on playing in Europe this year. We'll finish the season and the playoffs here and then we'll get ready to play in the world championships. That's all we can do. It's too bad. We want to be in the NHL."


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