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Blackhawks stars call NHL’s new cancellations a ‘scare tactic’

Champs for Charity Team Chicago Vs Team World Hockey Game. No No. Jonathan Toews tugs jersey former Chicago Blackhawk No.51

Champs for Charity, Team Chicago Vs Team World Hockey Game. No No. Jonathan Toews, tugs on the jersey of former Chicago Blackhawk No.51 Brian Campbell. October 26 , 2012 I Scott Stewart~Sun-Times

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Updated: November 28, 2012 6:15AM

NHL players, including several Blackhawks, taking part in the ‘‘Champs for Charity’’ game at Allstate Arena did their best Friday night to make a deflating day in the hockey world a little bit better — at least for those in the Chicago area.

The NHL, as expected, announced that its regular-season schedule through Nov. 30 has been canceled because of the lockout. A total of 326 regular-season games — 26.5 percent of the season -- have been lost from Oct. 11 to Nov. 30. The Hawks had 15 games, including their dreaded annual circus trip, scheduled in November.

What they’re dreading now is that the whole season will be lost. No formal negotiations are scheduled, and players see the NHL owners as refusing to budge from their proposals.

Hawks Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Steve Montador described the cancellations as a ‘‘scare tactic’’ by the league.

‘‘If there’s a deal reached tomorrow, they can un-cancel those games, so I don’t think it really means too much,’’ said Kane, who frequently saluted the crowd of more than 11,649 on Friday. ‘‘It’s to be expected. We knew they were going to come out with some cancellations. We knew it was coming.’’

NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr, who attended the charity game, said ‘‘nothing [the league’s] done over the past several weeks is very much a surprise. One thing sort of follows another.’’

‘‘It’s a shame,’’ Fehr said. ‘‘Hopefully, one of these days we will get down to serious negotiations, but we’re not there yet.’’

Toews attended the most recent formal negotiations in Toronto and left believing the NHL won’t truly negotiate until the players accept proposed concessions. The union recently asked for a meeting and the NHL declined.

‘‘It’s been proven over time that they’re on a timeline and they’re waiting to see how much they can squeeze us for,’’ Toews said. ‘‘I don’t know what’s going to happen in the next week or so, but as players, we’ve stood up, we’ve stood together this whole time. We’ve worked very hard at trying to negotiate. That’s as much as we can do at this point.’’

Montador said the players’ resolve has been further emboldened by the cancellations. But there definitely is some frustration.

‘‘We know we’re not going to play any games in the next week or two,’’ he said, ‘‘and that’s disappointing and frustrating for anyone that’s a fan of hockey, players included.’’

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