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NHL cancels games through Dec. 30, season in jeopardy

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman right deputy commissioner Bill Daly speak reporters Thursday Dec. 6 2012 New York. The NHL has

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)

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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

table.

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.



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