NEW YORK — There was no indication Wednesday that the NHL owners and players would resolve their differences before today's deadline.
Owners and players said the season is probably over. The strikebound league was a day away from calling off the remainder of its regular season and the Stanley Cup playoffs, which were scheduled to start Wednesday night.
None of the seven work stoppages in baseball and four in football ever interfered with their sport's championship event. The only season in which the NHL did not decide a champion was 1919, when a flu epidemic terminated the Stanley Cup finals.
Steve Larmer, player representative of the Chicago Blackhawks, echoed the voices of many players when he said: "I really don't see any chance at all" of saving the rest of the season.
Said Howard Baldwin, co-owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins: "There's no question in my mind at all (that the season is over). . . . This is the most ridiculous thing I've ever been involved with, and you're talking with someone who was involved in the WHA. We are bitterly disappointed."
The Kings' Tony Granato did not rule out all hope.
"I hope something still happens," Granato said, "but it doesn't look too good right now. Who knows? Maybe they'll come up with a miracle solution. Anything can happen, but this has gone farther than anyone ever anticipated.
"Each proposal has gotten progressively worse from our standpoint. I don't think the league should have ever let it get to this point. No way do you play a season and even risk this happening."
The owners have given the players until noon, PDT, today to accept their final take-it-or-leave-it offer. If not, they have said they will cancel the rest of the season.
The players rejected that offer on Tuesday.
One of the major problems with canceling the season is loss of revenue. Bruce McNall, owner of the Kings, says that every home playoff game the Kings miss costs the team about $500,000.