TORONTO, Sept. 9 (UPI) -- NHL officials rejected a union collective bargaining proposal Thursday, bringing the possibility of a lockout closer to reality.
The players presented their first proposal since last October, one league executive vice president Bill Daly said did not begin to narrow the bargaining differences.
"We are extremely disappointed with what the union presented to us today," Daly said. "Not only did the union's proposal fail to move the process forward toward a resolution but, in fact, represented a step backwards in the process."
The current agreement expires next Wednesday. The opening games of the 2004-05 season are scheduled for Oct. 13.
Daly said the union was, "unwilling to acknowledge or meaningfully address the league's problems." He said no further talks were scheduled.
NHL owners say they have lost hundreds of millions of dollars over the past several seasons and are seeking cost cutting measures.