SUNRISE, Fla. - The NHL locked out its players at midnight Saturday, becoming the third major sports league to impose a work stoppage in the last 18 months.
The action also marks the fourth shutdown for the NHL since 1992, including a year-long dispute that forced the cancellation of the entire 2004-05 season when the league held out for a salary cap.
The deal which ended that dispute expired at midnight, and Commissioner Gary Bettman followed through on his pledge to lock out the players with no new agreement in place.
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said the lockout was effective at 12:01 a.m. Sunday.
The main issue is money -- how to split $3.3 billion in revenue. The sides were so far apart in their discussions that they didn't meet face-to-face for negotiations on Saturday.
But despite the looming lockout, the Florida Panthers hit the ice Friday to prepare for the upcoming season they hope they'll still get to play.
"We put our blood and sweat into this game. We put a lot of energy into it," said defenseman Mike Weaver. "It's a grueling 82 games and it's not like we're asking for a lot. Basically saying what's fair to both sides."
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Panthers players said the money issue has been a sticking point in the past, but ultimately they want to get back on the ice.
"We're all in the same boat. We're passionate about the game. We want what's best -- that's to get on the ice as soon as possible with the understanding we're dealing with business as well," said head coach Kevin Dineen.
Training camps are to open Sept. 21 and the season is to begin Oct. 11.
Copyright 2012 by Post Newsweek. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.