x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

NHL: No lockout resolution in sight as Ovechkin warns dispute could last a year

The Washington Capitals star admits he expects to play in Russia for the next year as teams begin to lay off staff.

The NHL lockout takes effect at the Rogers Arena, home of the Vancouver Canucks.
The NHL lockout takes effect at the Rogers Arena, home of the Vancouver Canucks.

A leading National Hockey League star has warned he expects the lockout to last a full year as talks between teams and players remain unscheduled.

The second day of the NHL lockout saw little progress between either side, with no official discussions between league commissioner Gary Bettman and players representative Donald Ferh expected until at least tomorrow.

With a week having passed since the face-to-face talks over the dispute - surrounding the distribution of more than Dh12bn league revenue - Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin has admitted he does not expect to play again this season.

The player is eyeing a move to Russia's Kontinental Hockey League - where several big name players have already set up moves while the shutdown is in effect.

"If the league continues to insist on their [demands], then it will take a full year," he told Russian newspaper Sovetsky Sport.

"That's because we are not going to cave in "Then I will spend the entire season in the KHL. It's an absolute reality."

Training camps for the NHL sides were due to start this week ahead of the season getting under way on October 11, but that date now looks unlikely

"This is a time of year for all attention to be focused on the ice, not on a meeting room," the league said in a statement.

"The league, the clubs and the players all have a stake in resolving our bargaining issues appropriately and getting the puck dropped as soon as possible. We owe it to each other, to the game and, most of all, to the fans."

This is the fourth work stoppage to effect the league in 20 years. The last shutdown, over salary issues, saw the entire 2004/5 season being wiped out.

One team, the Ottawa Senators, after all, have already laid off staff, with full-time employees being moved to a reduced working week in a bid to save money during the lockout.

"Every full-time, every part-time employee is affected by a work stoppage," Cyril Leeder, the team president, said.

"On the full-time employees, they've either been laid off temporarily or gone to a four-day work week."

"It's not good for anybody when we have a work stoppage and the people most affected are our staff here."

Leeder said the organisation is working hard to ensure it's ready to resume operations once the lockout comes to an end.