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BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Day one of the NHL Lockout appears to be ending with little room for optimism. As the players' union blamed the work stoppage on the owners, the Buffalo Sabres announced how the team would be refunding fans for their tickets this season.

The lockout is the result of the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement between the league and the players union. The owners, who feel they should keep a larger percentage of the league's revenue, have locked out the players. The players had been receiving 57 percent of the league's revenue. The owners think it should be 49 percent.


The action also marks the fourth shutdown for the NHL since 1992, including a year-long dispute that forced the cancellation of the entire 2004-05 season when the league held out for a salary cap.


Sunday, the players began waging a major public relations campaign against the owners, releasing an online video that puts the blame squarely on the shoulders of the owners.


The video, featuring top players such as Sidney Crosby, expresses sympathy for fans then points to the owners as the cause of the work stoppage. During a portion of the video, one of the players said: "We have been willing to give concessions on the growth of our salaries. We would like to help out those teams that are really struggling. And there is no doubt that there are some that are really struggling. We think along with us giving concessions, there should be some help coming from the current owners that are in good positions."


At the end of the video, the screen reads: "This is an NHL Owners Lockout."


Coupled with the announcement from the Sabres that the team will use two methods to refund ticket sales, the news for fans does not appear to be promising. The video also seems indicative of the fact that both sides are digging in.


The only good news is that, despite the lockout, no hockey has been lost. Training camp was set to open this week and the games are not scheduled to begin until next month.


AP/WGRZ
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