Same NHL offer. Same response by the players' union: no thanks.

The NHL Players' Association on Wednesday rejected a take-it-or-leave-it offer from the NHL, prolonging the labor dispute.

"They left it for us to make a decision to see basically if we want to accept the proposal that was presented to us last week," free-agent forward Brendan Morrison, one of 13 players to attend the meetings in Iselin, N.J., told the Record of Bergen County. "So it wasn't much of a decision."

Last Thursday, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman angrily took the league's offers off the bargaining table after the players rejected them. On Wednesday, he put the offers back on the table.

It was the first time the two sides met since negotiations abruptly ended last Thursday.

The sides - which did not include any owners - were in separate rooms on Wednesday, and Scot Beckenbaugh, a federal mediator, went back and forth with the parties and tried to find some common ground.

No date was set for the parties to meet again.

The players weren't ready to accept the NHL's proposal, which included a 50/50 split of hockey-related revenue, $300 million toward guaranteeing salaries, a 10-year collective bargaining agreement, a maximum of five years on player contracts, and compliance issues.

Wednesday was the 88th day of the lockout, and the sides are close on several major issues. But they figure to battle over "transition" issues - such as setting the teams' maximum salary cap, and whether to include amnesty buyouts this season.

Bettman said teams must play a 48-game season to preserve the league's integrity. Assuming the regular season still ended April 13, the first games would have to be played by about Jan. 5 to have at least a 48-game season.

For that to happen, a deal would have to be in place by Christmas, giving players time to return from Europe and have a short training camp.

Breakaways. The Comcast Network will televise five Adirondack Phantoms games, starting with a 7 p.m. game on Saturday against the Manchester Monarchs. . . . Ed Snider, chairman of the Flyers' parent company, Comcast-Specator, and the company's president, Peter Luukko, were named 43d in Street and Smith's Sports Business Journal's list of the most influential people in sports business.