By Larry Fine
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA) said the league rejected its latest offer on Thursday as labor talks aimed at ending the lockout unexpectedly broke off on Thursday.
Moments after telling a news conference a proposal presented to the NHL should pave the way for a quick end to a dispute that is threatening to wipe out an entire season, the NHLPA said its offer was shot down.
"We were advised in a voice mail message that the moves the players made were not acceptable, there was no reason to stay around for meetings tonight or tomorrow, that they would be in touch," NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr told reporters.
"It looks like this is not going to be resolved in the immediate future. I hope that turns out to be wrong but that's certainly what the message is that we have today."
Fehr and more than a dozen players presented the proposal to NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly and a league lawyer during a meeting that lasted one hour before the NHL officials left to report the offer to the league office.
According to Fehr, the NHLPA "responded comprehensively" to issues that had been at the center of recent discussions and believed an agreement on key issues including pension plans and player contracts was in place.
"We have moved very substantially in the owners' direction on things like contract length and variability and term of agreement and we hope and believe and expect that this should put us on the road to a quick end to this dispute," he said.
(Editing by Frank Pingue)
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