For the first time, a major North American sports league has lost an entire season because of a labor dispute. On Wednesday, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman held a press conference in New York to announce the cancellation of the 2004-2005 NHL season. Despite several last-minute attempts, NHL owners and players could not agree to terms on a new labor agreement. The major sticking point was a salary cap. The players initially said they would never accept a cap. But in a proposal made late on Monday night, the players’ union agreed to a $52 million cap. On Tuesday, the NHL made what it called a “take-it-or-leave-it” offer which included a $42.5 million cap. The players’ union countered with a deal that included a $49 million cap. The owners rejected the offer, which led to Bettman’s announcement. This will be the first year the Stanley Cup has not been presented since a flu epidemic wiped out the finals in 1919.