Source: There 'may be no point in having a season'

Updated: May 21, 2005, 10:51 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

The NHL lockout has already forced the cancellation of one season. Could it cancel another too?

Two league sources told the Ottawa Sun that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has said the league wants a new collective bargaining agreement by mid-June or there "may be no point in having a season."

The sources said Bettman hasn't threatened to cancel the season, but he has told union boss Bob Goodenow that not reaching a deal soon will threaten season tickets and sponsorship agreements. There is word that major sponsors -- including Ford, Molson and Sony -- have told the NHL they'll take their business elsewhere if an agreement isn't reached by June 15, which could be why the two sides spent 22 hours over two days negotiating this week.

The sources told the Sun the league could break off talks with the NHLPA, offer a salary cap of $31 million and refuse to negotiate until the union accepts.

"The league just doesn't think there would be much sense in continuing to negotiate," a source told the Sun.

The Sun said the players are anxious to get a deal done.

"There's a lot of pressure on both sides to make something happen here," a league source told the Sun. "Both sides want to get back to work because there really isn't much sense in having this lockout stretch into a second season."

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