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NHL officials on strike

NEW YORK -- The National Hockey League Officials Association has gone out on strike for the first time in its history.

Replacement officials were expected to be used for the three games scheduled for Monday night. Montreal was at Ottawa, Edmonton at Toronto and Calgary at Winnipeg.

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The replacements were hired by the league from among minor-league referees and linesmen who attended a recent camp in Indianapolis. Some of the replacements have worked collegiate and international contests. The new officials will wear two-way radios to allow them to communicate with NHL supervisors in the stands.

Sunday night's strike deadline passed without a settlement after the two sides met in New York for over two hours.

Senior Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations Brian Burke said in a televised interview on the Madison Square Garden Network Sunday that no significant progress was made in Sunday afternoon talks.

NHL officials Friday night voted unanimously to reject the league's latest contract offer, raising the possibility of a strike. The Association voted, 58-0, to reject the latest offer and offered a counter-proposal to the league.

NHL negotiators last Tuesday released what they said represented a final offer to the Officials Association, whose agreement to continue to work expired Monday. The officials have been without a contract since Aug. 31.

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NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said Friday that the Officials Association has demanded more than $1.5 million in additional salary and benefits each year.

This strike is the first mid-season work stoppage by referees and linesmen in NHL history.

Under the League'soffer, base salaries for first year referees would increase from $50,000 to $65,000 in the first year of the contract and to $80,000 by the fourth year.

A referee with 10 years of experience would receive an increase from $80,000 to $125,000, and the most senior referees would nearly double their base salaries from $90,000 to $175,000. By the fourth year of the agreement, the salary scale would rise to a range from $80,000 for a first-year referee to $220,000 for the most senior referees.

The Officials Association wants an immediate 60 percent increase. Starting salary currently is $50,000 per year for a referee and $33,000 for a linesman.

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