The National Hockey League’s lockout shows no signs of ending soon and so league owners announced on Friday afternoon that they have scrapped the entire schedule through November.
That’s a loss of 326 games overall in October and November and next up on the chopping block is the Winter Classic, the league’s marque regular-season event since it began in 2008. This year’s game is supposed to be played on Jan. 1 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich. between the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs.
That would pose a serious loss of revenue for the 2012-13 season, but the league did not mention the event in their release to the media on Friday so – for now at least – it remains on the schedule. But NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has said repeatedly that the league needs weeks to prepare for that event and it won’t be played if there is not a collective bargaining agreement with the NHL Players’ Association in place by early next month.
Foe what it’s worth, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly issued a statement after the decision was made official: “The National Hockey League deeply regrets having to take this action. 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.
“We acknowledge and accept that there is joint responsibility in collective bargaining and, though we are profoundly disappointed that a new agreement has not been attained to this point, we remain committed to achieving an agreement that is fair for the Players and the Clubs — one that will be good for the game and our fans.”
The loss of the November schedule means the Capitals have now had 13 home games wiped out so far and another 10 road games. The next contest still officially on the schedule is a Dec. 1 home game against the Carolina Hurricanes. The league’s latest move, according to Daly’s statement, assures that a full 82-game season will not be possible. Washington’s busiest month of the season will be December when it has nine home games scheduled.
By Dec. 27 the Caps were supposed to have played 22 of their 41 home games so there aren’t as many dates in January, February and March where Verizon Center is reserved for hockey. In the 67 days between Dec. 28 and March 4 the Caps were supposed to play just 10 home games – four in January and six in February.
The NHL and the NHLPA have not spoken formally since the owners quickly left a meeting last week after three proposals were issued by the players and immediately rejected. As of Friday afternoon no new talks were scheduled for the weekend or early next week.
“The message from the owners seems to be: if you don’t give us exactly what we want, there is no point in talking,” NHLPA executive director Don Fehr said in a statement. “They have shown they are very good at delivering deadlines and demands, but we need a willing partner to negotiate. We hope they return to the table in order to get the players back on the ice soon.”
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