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Bettman says another NHL lockout looms

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman maintains the league will lock out players Sunday if a new labor deal isn't reached, and star player Sidney Crosby isn't optimistic the season will start on time.

With both sides far apart and little time before the current deal expires at midnight EDT Saturday, the league's board of governors met in New York on Thursday as a group of more than 280 players gathered at a hotel a short distance away.

Following lockouts last year by basketball and football owners, Bettman says hockey management is determined to come away with economic gains, even if it forces the NHL's fourth work stoppage since 1992.

''Two other leagues - the NBA and the NFL - their players have recognized that in these economic times there is a need to retrench,'' Bettman said during a news conference that followed the unanimous endorsement of a lockout during a two-hour owners' meeting.

The last labor stoppage caused the cancellation of the entire 2004-05 season, a lockout that ended only when players accepted a salary cap.

''Right now it's not looking great,'' said Crosby, a Pittsburgh Penguins star who was just 16 when the last lockout began, ''but things can change pretty quickly.''

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