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NHL cancels games through November

(MCT) — The NHL lockout has now claimed games through the month of November.

The league on Friday canceled games through Nov. 30 as the lockout continued into its 40th day. The NHL had set a Thursday deadline to reach a deal on a new collective bargaining agreement to maintain the possibility of a full 82-game regular season. The NHL and players' union have not been meeting and Friday the league canceled the games.

"The National Hockey League deeply regrets having to take this action," deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement. "By presenting a proposal to the NHLPA that contemplated a fair division of revenues and was responsive to Player concerns regarding the value of their contracts, we had hoped to be able to forge a long-term Collective Bargaining Agreement that would have preserved an 82-game Regular Season for our fans. Unfortunately, that did not occur.

“We acknowledge and accept that there is joint responsibility in collective bargaining and, though we are profoundly disappointed that a new agreement has not been attained to this point, we remain committed to achieving an agreement that is fair for the Players and the Clubs -- one that will be good for the game and our fans."

NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr issued a lengthy statement shortly after the cancellations.

“The league officially informed us today that they have withdrawn their latest proposal and have cancelled another slate of regular season games. This is deeply disappointing for all hockey fans and everyone who makes their living from hockey, including the players. But it comes as no surprise.

"Last week the owners gave us what amounts to a "take-it-or-leave-it" proposal. We responded with the framework for three proposals on the players’ share, each of which moved significantly, towards their stated desire for a 50-50 split of HRR, with the only condition being that they honour contracts they have already signed. Honouring contracts signed between owners and players is a reasonable request. Unfortunately, after considering them for only 10 minutes they rejected all of our proposals.

"Since then, we have repeatedly advised the owners that the players are prepared to sit down and negotiate on any day, with no pre-conditions. The owners refused. They apparently are only interested in meeting if we first agree to everything in their last offer, except for perhaps a few minor tweaks and discussion of their “make whole” provision.

"The message from the owners seems to be: if you don't give us exactly what we want, there is no point in talking. They have shown they are very good at delivering deadlines and demands, but we need a willing partner to negotiate. We hope they return to the table in order to get the players back on the ice soon.”

The Chicago Blackhawks had 22 games scheduled to Nov. 30 and now a total of 326 games around the league will be missed.

The sides have both reached a 50-50 split in hockey-related revenue, but the NHL is also insisting on the rollback of current salaries--something players are not willing to do.

"We signed those contracts," Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said earlier this week. "Hockey players only have a limited time to play and earn an living as hockey players and we have to do everything we can. Every single guy who makes it to this level has worked very hard for that. To ... sign a deal that changes your life and makes things better for you and your family and then someone tries to take that away from you and take all your hard work and dedication away, it's insulting and quite frankly embarrassing for (the owners) as well. We can be proud for standing up for we've stood up for so far. There’s no shame in that."

The NHL is expected to make an official announcement later Friday.

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