NEW YORK, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- A contract proposal from NHL players was rejected by club owners Thursday and talks aimed at saving the hockey season came to at least a temporary end.
After more than 20 hours of negotiations over the previous two days, including a late-night session on Wednesday, the optimism that had been generated faded away.
Union chief Donald Fehr said a message had been sent from the owners that the most recent offer by the players' association had not been accepted and that the message indicated there was no use in holding more talks on Friday.
The players had asked for the talks to continue with federal mediators present, but both sides must agree to that before outside representatives can enter the negotiations. Fehr said the owners had not agreed to having the mediators present.
The talks that took place Tuesday and Wednesday involved only a group of owners and players. Neither Fehr nor NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman were present during those sessions.
Representatives from both sides met for an hour Thursday before the talks came to an end.
Among the owners who had been present for the talks on Tuesday and Wednesday were Pittsburgh's Ron Burkle, Toronto's Larry Tanenbaum and Boston's Jeremy Jacobs.
NHL owners locked out the players Sept. 16 after no new collective bargaining agreement could be reached. Games through Dec. 14 have been canceled, as has the Winter Classic and the 2013 All-Star Game.