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CBA uncertainty prompts NHL to call off next season's European premiere games

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman poses at the offices of the National Hockey League in New York, April 19, 2011. The NHL has instructed its general managers to conduct business as usual despite impending collective bargaining talks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Richard Drew

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NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman poses at the offices of the National Hockey League in New York, April 19, 2011. The NHL has instructed its general managers to conduct business as usual despite impending collective bargaining talks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Richard Drew

BOCA RATON, Fla. - The uncertainty surrounding the NHL's collective bargaining agreement has prompted the league to call off next fall's games in Europe.

A senior league source confirms the season-opening overseas games will not be held for the first time since 2007.

The collective bargaining agreement is set to expire Sept. 15 so there is no guarantee there will be games to play.

The league's general managers wrapped up their meeting Wednesday preaching "business as usual" heading into the CBA negotiations.

Deputy commissioner Bill Daly addressed bargaining during the final session with GMs and commissioner Gary Bettman discussed it with reporters afterwards.

Bettman wouldn't comment on what the next CBA may look like.

"But the CBA that we currently have is in effect until Sept. 15 and we told clubs to continue to operate under the CBA," he said.

To date, there have been no formal bargaining talks between the league and NHL Players' Association.

However, the sides have discussed the status of the premiere games for next season.

There was a desire to schedule them, but an agreement couldn't be reach between the league and the NHLPA over how cancellation costs would be handled in the event of a work stoppage, according to two sources.

The NHL lost the entire 2004-05 season to a lockout the last time the sides negotiated a collective agreement.

On Wednesday, Bettman expressed confidence that there is still plenty of time to avoid a repeat of that scenario—saying he's "not worried" on more than one occasion—and indicated the league is ready to start negotiations at any time. The NHLPA wants to wait until the season is over.

"We are continuing to meet with players across the league as part of our preparations for the upcoming CBA negotiations," NHLPA director, communications Jonathan Weatherdon said in a statement. "At our request, the NHL recently supplied the NHLPA with some initial financial information that we are currently reviewing. While we do not have a set date for formal negotiations to begin, we expect negotiations will begin when we have players available to participate in bargaining sessions."

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