The NHL Players Association made its most complete collective bargaining pitch Wednesday, as requested by the NHL.
The NHL then rejected it, leaving the talks stalled, everyone disappointed and the 2012-2013 season still in peril.
The day began with promise, with the NHLPA offering a comprehensive, six-page proposal on all CBA issues. But it ended with the CBA negotiations still stalemated, with no end in sight to the lockout.
NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr said he was not sure what the next move now would be or when the next CBA meetings would be held.
"On the big things there was, as of today, no reciprocity in any meaningful sense," Fehr told reporters.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman conceded “there was some movement in our direction” with the proposal.
“We’re still far apart,” he said. “But hopefully there’s some momentum so we can bring this to a conclusion.”
Bettman said the league was losing $18 million a day in revenue, but refused to set a deadline on when the season would have to be cancelled.
Addressing the media at a noon break, Fehr confirmed the union no longer was insistent on a fixed financial guarantee, or "fixed target" -- the players received more than $1.8 billion last season -- but would agree to accept a percentage of hockey-related revenue (HRR.). Fehr had said the two sides were $182 million apart over the course of a proposed five-year CBA on a "make whole" provision for honoring existing contracts.
The league is seeking to reduce the players' share of HRR from 57 percent under the old CBA to 50 percent -- in line with the percentage players in the NBA and NFL agreed to in their new CBAs. The union had proposed gradually reducing the players' share to 50 percent during the CBA.
The league had proposed to "make whole" the contracts through deferred compensation, offering to move $211 million from its HRR share to fund it. The union wanted that total raised to $393 million over four years.
Details of the proposal show that the breakdown on "make whole" was $182 million in 2012-2013, then $128 million the next season, $72 million in the third year and $11 million in the fourth. That would put the HRR split at 50-50 in the fourth year.
In years two through five, the players' share of HRR would not be lower than the previous year.
Fehr said the proposal "was about as good as we can do."
"We moved far more than halfway," Fehr told reporters. "Our expectation is the NHL is going to be willing to meet us if they want to reach an agreement."
The union proposed $200 million in revenue sharing based on $3.3 billion in HRR. The figure would vary from year to year based on HRR.
On contracting issues, the union did not make a proposal on contract lengths or free agency.
The union, in its proposal Wednesday, offered to do away with front-loaded, back-diving contracts. That would apply to existing contracts nine years or longer and any signed under the new CBA.
It also proposed that players making more than $1 million who are in the American Hockey League be counted against their NHL team's cap, ending the practice of teams circumventing the cap by "hiding" high-salary players in the minors.
The union proposed a three-man panel to settle arbitration for on-ice disciplinary measures. The NHL would provide one arbitrator, the NHLPA one and there would be a neutral arbitrator.
In the memo to the players sent after the morning meeting, Fehr wrote the union has "made substantial moves in order to address all of the owners’ concerns, end the owners’ lockout and get the game back on the ice."
The NHL players have been locked out since Sept. 15 and the league has cancelled 327 games including the 2013 Winter Classic on New Year's Day.
After a players' skate Wednesday in Pittsburgh, Penguins star Sidney Crosby told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "We're making a move in their direction, so I don't see why they wouldn't consider it.
"What we want back on the back whole is not even close to what we're putting on the table, everything combined. We wanted progress, but it takes both sides.
The Canadian Press reported Wednesday that the NHLPA sent a letter Monday to the Canadian parliament outlining its position on the lockout and offering an update on negotiations.
The letter said, in part, "The players understand the selfishness of the owners' position all too well. Countless people -- from league and team employees, to hockey fans, to small business owners and their workers -- are suffering unnecessarily as a result."