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NHL cancels preseason games in September

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Sports,NHL,Capitals,Brian McNally

Ovechkin signed deal to play for Russian club

The National Hockey League has canceled all of its preseason games scheduled for September because of the ongoing lockout as owners and the NHL Players' Association continue negotiations toward a new collective bargaining agreement.

The lockout began at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday when the old CBA expired. In all, 60 NHL preseason games were canceled. The Capitals lost three preseason games, including the second Baltimore Hockey Classic scheduled for Sept. 26 at 1st Mariner Arena against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The team announced that fans who have already purchased single-game tickets for that event will receive a full refund.

"Last year's inaugural Baltimore Hockey Classic, against the Nashville Predators, was a tremendous success as the teams played in front of a sellout crowd of 11,082 fans who witnessed the first professional hockey game played in Baltimore since 1997," the Caps wrote in an official statement. "[The organization] was overwhelmed with the support from the city of Baltimore and our fans in Maryland, and we look forward to bringing this event back to the city in the near future."

According to a report by ESPN on Wednesday, formal talks have yet to resume between the NHL and the NHLPA this week. The rest of the preseason schedule is expected to be canceled soon and after that regular-season games will be in jeopardy, too. They are scheduled to begin on Oct. 11. The Caps also lose a Sept. 25 home preseason game with the Boston Bruins and a game Sept. 30 in Detroit against the Red Wings.

Already, star captain Alex Ovechkin has signed a one-year deal to play with his former club in Russia, Dynamo Moscow. Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth, a native of the Czech Republic, also has a contract to play for HC Sparta Praha. Other players could follow in the coming weeks, though the teams' players for now won't consider the Swedish Elite League, which will only sign players willing to stay the entire season. That's a non-starter for Washington's Swedish forwards Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson.

bmcnally@washingtonexaminer.com

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