The National Hockey League will not start next season on time if a new collective bargaining agreement has not been reached with the players' association.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman made the announcement Wednesday after a four-hour meeting of the league's board of governors. And the likelihood of replacement players taking the ice has diminished greatly since the last board meeting on March first.
Bettman said if no agreement is reached by October's scheduled start of the NHL season, the league will then decide what options to pursue. He was adamant that the board is as unified as ever and he said there is plenty of support for all scenarios should a deal with the union fall out of reach.
The NHL is the first major sports league in North America to lose an entire season to a labor dispute. The lockout was imposed last September 16 after the expiration of the previous agreement with the players' union.
Some information for this report provided by AP.