NHL lockout chronology

Updated: February 16, 2005, 4:16 PM ET
Associated Press

Jan. 6: NHL Players' Association executive director Bob Goodenow and commissioner Gary Bettman quietly hold first collective bargaining talks pertaining to expiration of current deal.

March 26: Eight consecutive meetings are secretly held between top lieutenants and lawyers from both sides. They are: NHLPA senior director Ted Saskin and union outside counsel John McCambridge on the players' side; NHL executive vice president and chief legal officer Bill Daly and league outside counsel Bob Batterman represent the owners. Other sessions take place in Toronto and Philadelphia in April, and Ottawa and New York in May.

June 4: The biggest gathering yet, again kept secret, with Goodenow and Bettman joining the talks, as well as NHLPA associate counsel Ian Pulver and David Zimmerman, NHL vice president and general counsel.

Oct. 1: First meeting made public, includes players and owners. Union tables first proposal, offer which includes five percent salary rollback. League says no and counters by saying under any new system team payrolls could not exceed $31 million -- the NHL's first official salary cap threat.

Jan. 14: First talks in more than three months include Goodenow, Bettman, Saskin, Daly, McCambridge, Batterman, Pulver and Zimmerman.

Feb. 12: League hired gun Arthur Levitt releases his financial report, which says the NHL is on a "treadmill to obscurity'' if player costs aren't reduced. The report says only 11 of 30 teams were profitable in 2002-03, when total operating losses were $273 million. The union calls the report "flawed.''

April 29-September 9: Several meetings yield proposals but no agreements. League first points out desire for a "partnership/cost certain system for player compensation''; union reminds league of aversion to salary cap system.

Sept. 15: Bettman announces lockout.

Oct. 13: First official day of the NHL's regular season missed.

Dec. 9: Both sides arrive at talks with full complement of negotiating teams. Union surprises with offer highlighted by 24 percent salary rollback on all existing player contracts. Other givebacks in entry-level system, qualifying offers, salary arbitration, and slightly better payroll tax, but no salary cap.

Dec. 14: Negotiating teams meet again. The NHL, as expected, rejects the union's proposal and offers its own counter-proposal, which the union rejects. The league's offer includes a salary cap, the scrapping of salary arbitration and the restructuring of the players' 24 percent salary rollback.

Jan. 17: Players' executive committee president Trevor Linden invites both sides back to the negotiating table, but with a small group that does not include Bettman or Goodenow.

Jan. 19-27: Small-group meetings held, some in secret, all with very little progress.

Feb. 2-4: Marathon round of meetings featuring mix-and-match of representatives. League tables 15-point proposal, once again featuring salary cap -- and NHLPA rejects it. No real progress reported, but both sides to meet again.

Feb. 9: NHL surprises the union, Bettman calling Goodenow and asking if they can meet. League offers "compromise'' deal which union quickly rejects. Bettman finally announces there won't be hockey unless a deal is put on paper by weekend.

Feb. 10: NHL, NHLPA part ways, after bleak assessment of latest failed talks.

Feb. 14: The NHL schedules a news conference for Feb. 16 during which it plans to cancel the season. Then, what looks like a breakthrough: The league drops its demand for a link between league revenues and player costs, and the players' association agrees to accept a salary cap during talks in Niagara Falls, N.Y.

Feb. 15: The sides trade a flurry of proposals and letters, but could never agree on a cap. The owners bump up their offer of a $40 million cap to $42.5 million; the players counterproposal is for $49 million, which the league rejects out-of-hand.

Feb. 16: Bettman holds news conference as scheduled, cancels season.

The Canadian Press contributed to this chronology.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press