September 12, 2012; New York, NY, USA; NHLPA executive director Don Fehr speaks during a press conference at the 2012 NHLPA summer player meetings at the Marriott Marquis. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-US PRESSWIRE

NHL Officially Postpones 2012-13 Season

The NHL announced Thursday that a total 82 games have been cancelled from the regular season that still sits in the balance.

The regular was set to begin on October 11 and the cancellation is effective through October 24.  The league’s deputy commissioner, Bill Daly, claims the NHL has already lost over $100 million in revenue due to the work stoppage.  Daly had a chance to brief the media after the talks came to an end Tuesday.

“That is not going to be recouped and that’s going to cost both sides, that’s unfortunate but it’s a reality of where we are.”

As expected, the NHL has officially undergone its third lockout since 1995.  This is third consecutive lockout under Commissioner, Gary Bettman.  Donald Fehr, Executive Director of the Players Association, offered a critical word for the league after the announcement of the cancelled games..

“The decision to cancel the first two weeks of the NHL season is the unilateral choice of the NHL owners.  If the owners truly cared about the game and the fans, they would lift the lockout and allow the season to begin on time. We hope we will soon have a willing negotiating partner.”

This has been the tone for the duration of the summer, which has seen labour negotiations open and close with minimal progress.  It has also been the overwhelming tone of hockey fans who are quick to point the finger of blame at the league for the lockout.  Bettman may not have an impressive NHL track record, but it is fair for both sides to shoulder their fair share of the blame.

As noted on multiple occasions by Mr. Bettman, the league urged the players to begin negotiation talks since last November.  The players declined and suggested summer 2012 negotiations would be more than enough time to settle an agreement.  This miscommunication eventually led to the two stubborn sides refusing to give in to the other.  The players may have misunderstood the league’s desire to cut player revenue sharing and the extent the owners would go to ensure that cut.. a lockout.  So while the league is the initiator of the lockout, there is a reasonable amount of blame to be shared by the players.

Despite the not-so-good news of the league officially taking on another lockout, Fehr insists the players will continue to remain diligent in their efforts to salvage the season.

“It’s going to require sitting there and staying with it — even if it’s unpleasant, even if people aren’t saying anything new right away, even if you’d rather be doing something else — until you find a way to do it.”

While the blame appears to remain squarely on the owners and their decision to lockout the players, the players are doing themselves no favours by signing oversees.  So unless the owners crumble, the more players they see sign abroad the more it appears the players are losing their unity they’ve boasted over the summer.  Of course, it could have the opposite effect.

The continuous signing of players oversees could encourage the small market owners to voice their displeasure and call for a deal to save the season in order to save their franchise.  Not many teams can afford a full season lockout.  That amount of lost revenue may develop a voice of its own in future negotiations through these small market owners.

In recent meetings, the league and players have taken aim at all aspects of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, excluding “core economics.”  Though this approach will offer actual progress in negotiations, the deal-breaker will have to made at the economic level.

Fans can only hope that the official cancellation of season games will encourage more aggressive and more frequent negotiations in an attempt to end the lockout.


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