NHL Cancels Season Through November 30

The NHL has officially cancelled all regular season games through Nov. 30.  This latest development should come as little shock after the league made itself clear earlier in the week, that if no agreement was met on their latest proposal by Oct. 25, their offer would be withdrawn from the bargaining table.

A total of 326 regular-season games have been cancelled as of this afternoon, over a quarter of the season, leaving hockey fans with dwindling hope of a season at all.  Preserving a full 82-game season would be a crunch after losing another full month of play time, and at this time is unlikely.

More concerning is the thought of future cuts down the road in this mess of a negotiation between the owners and players’ union, as NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has already stated that the cancellation of the 2013 Winter Classic is “rapidly approaching.”

The following statements were issued earlier today from NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly and NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr respectively:

Bill Daly:

“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.”

Donald Fehr:

“The league officially informed us today that they have withdrawn their latest proposal and have cancelled another slate of regular season games. This is deeply disappointing for all hockey fans and everyone who makes their living from hockey, including the players. But it comes as no surprise.  Last week the owners gave us what amounts to a “take-it-or-leave-it” proposal. We responded with the framework for three proposals on the players’ share, each of which moved significantly, towards their stated desire for a 50-50 split of HRR, with the only condition being that they honour contracts they have already signed. Honouring contracts signed between owners and players is a reasonable request. Unfortunately, after considering them for only 10 minutes they rejected all of our proposals.  Since then, we have repeatedly advised the owners that the players are prepared to sit down and negotiate on any day, with no pre-conditions. The owners refused. They apparently are only interested in meeting if we first agree to everything in their last offer, except for perhaps a few minor tweaks and discussion of their “make whole” provision.  The message from the owners seems to be: if you don’t give us exactly what we want, there is no point in talking. 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.”

My opinion?

Of course the NHL “deeply regrets” having to tighten its noose on the NHLPA, and the players union finds this all “deeply disappointing” that something they knew was going to happen, happened.  At this point it is almost insulting to hear either side halfheartedly sigh about the poor fans who are the real losers in this lockout.  Yes, we’re all very upset that ya’ll can’t get your act together, truly.  Maybe instead of trying to placate the masses who flood your stadiums, buy your merchandise, and genuinely love the sport with too-good-to-be-true time sensitive proposals you aren’t willing to negotiate from and a random assortment of other proposals you are trying to pass off as progressive steps toward an eventual end you know you will just be bullied into later, just end this.

Sorry… rant.

Point is, we’re in this lockout, and we’re going to continue to be in this lockout until the NHL gets exactly what it wants.  Donald got it right when he said that.

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