NEW YORK – The NHL lockout has forced the cancellation of all games through the end of November.
The NHL announced Friday that 326 regular-season games from Oct. 11 through Nov. 30 were lost – more than 25 percent of the schedule. The news came 1 day after a league-imposed deadline passed for a deal with the players’ association that would allow for a full season.
“The National Hockey League deeply regrets having to take this action,” deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement. “By presenting a proposal to the NHLPA that contemplated a fair division of revenues and was responsive to player concerns regarding the value of their contracts, we had hoped to be able to forge a long-term collective bargaining agreement that would have preserved an 82-game regular season for our fans.
“Unfortunately, that did not occur.”
The dispute is all too similar to the 2004-05 lockout that led to the cancellation of that entire season – the first time a North American professional sports league lost a complete campaign to a labor dispute.
Reaching a new deal potentially became even tougher Friday, because the NHL pulled off the table its most recent offer to the players – one that included a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenues.
“This is deeply disappointing for all hockey fans and everyone who makes their living from hockey, including the players,” union executive director Donald Fehr said in a statement. “But it comes as no surprise.”
Whether any of the canceled games can be rescheduled in the event of a quick settlement remains to be seen.
A quick decision on the status of the New Year’s Day outdoor Winter Classic and the All-Star game later in January isn’t expected, Daly said.
Efforts by the players’ association to resume negotiations this week were rebuffed by the NHL, because the union declined to agree to start bargaining off the framework of the league’s offer or issue another proposal using the league’s proposal as a starting point.
The lockout, the third of Bettman’s tenure as commissioner, began Sept. 16.
“We have repeatedly advised the owners that the players are prepared to sit down and negotiate on any day, with no preconditions. The owners refused,” Fehr said. “The message from the owners seems to be: if you don’t give us exactly what we want, there is no point in talking.”