Karmanos says 'this season is gone'

There will be no hockey this season, and arenas could remain dark next year, too.

So says Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos Jr.

"My gut feeling is that this season is gone," said Karmanos in an interview published in the Toronto Sun.

He held out the threat that without cost certainty, the owners could also cancel the 2005-06 season.

"I know personally that I'd be willing to risk another season. I'm enough of a hockey fan to realize that once we got it straightened out, the fans come back. But there's the risk they wouldn't. Even with that in mind, I feel very, very strongly that if we don't get it straightened out, we don't have to worry about the NHL existing anyways."

The comments came despite commissioner Gary Bettman's call for silence on the lockout, although sources told the paper that he might have been talking on league instructions.

No talks are scheduled between the NHL and the players' association.