NHL cancels games through Dec. 30, season in jeopardy
BY MARK LAZERUS Twitter: @MarkLazerus firstname.lastname@example.org December 10, 2012 1:04PM
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, right, and deputy commissioner Bill Daly speak to reporters, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012, in New York. The NHL has rejected the players' latest offer for a labor deal, and negotiations have broken off at least until the weekend. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Updated: December 10, 2012 6:01PM
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has repeatedly declined to set a
drop-dead date to salvage the 2012-13 season.
But whatever it is, it’s getting close.
The NHL on Monday cancelled two more weeks of games, wiping out the
schedule through Dec. 30, as the league’s third work stoppage since
1994 drags on. Nearly 43 percent of the season — 526 regular-season
games — have been lost so far during the four-month-old lockout.
That’s actually more games lost than in the 1994-95 lockout, which was
resolved on Jan. 11, 1995, leading to a 48-game regular season
beginning nine days later. Bettman has said that 48 games would be the
minimum required to make a season worthwhile.
The Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium and the All-Star Game already
have been canceled.
“When it gets to the point where we can’t play a season with
integrity, with a representative schedule, then we’ll be done,”
Bettman told reporters last week after talks with the players’
association broke down. “If you go back in history in ‘94-95, I think
we played 48 games. I can’t imagine wanting to play fewer than that.”
During the 2004-05 lockout, the league waited until mid-February to
become the first major North American league canceled a full season
because of a labor dispute.
The two feuding sides appeared to be close to a deal last week,
meeting for nearly 20 hours on Tuesday and Wednesday, until a bizarre
turn of events late Thursday night in New York. Union chief Don Fehr
told reporters that a deal was within reach, stoking fan optimism. But
minutes later, he came back out and said the league had rejected the
latest proposal — via voicemail — and had taken everything off the
Bettman then angrily accused Fehr of misrepresenting the negotiations
and playing with fans’ emotions.
Among the key sticking points are the “Make Whole” provision that will
ensure current player contracts will be honored even as the players’
share of hockey related revenue is scaled back from 57 percent to 50
percent; the length of the CBA (the league wants a 10-year agreement,
the players want a shorter one); and player contract length (the
league wants a max of five, seven if a team re-signs its own player.
Bill Daly, the league’s deputy commissioner, said that last point is
“the hill we die on.”
The league said on Monday that it was trying to restart talks with the
players’ association, but that nothing was finalized yet.