September 13, 2012; New York, NY, USA; NHL commissioner Gary Bettman speaks during a press conference at the Crowne Plaza Times Square. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-US PRESSWIRE

NHL Cancels Games Through November

The deadline for an 82-game season has come and passed as the inevitable has become official with the league cancelling all regular season games through November 30.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman confirmed the cancellation of the month’s worth of games as the two sides declined to hold any more negotiation meetings last week.  However,  Bettman has not yet cancelled the Winter Classic which features the Red Wings and the Leafs at the Big House in Michigan, home of the Wolverines.

The league has already invested $100, 000 in hosting the event and is due to pay $250, 000 by November 2.  The league is paying a total of $2.85 million in monthly installments.  So if talks fail to proceed this week, you can expect an announcement cancelling the Winter Classic too.  Especially with Bettman repeatedly saying he’s disappointed with the players’ stance this far into negotiations.

“We acknowledge and accept that there is joint responsibility in collective bargaining,” said Bettman.  “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.”

NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr said in a statement that given the quick shut-down of the three proposals offered last week, he isn’t surprised.

“This is deeply disappointing for all hockey fans and everyone who makes their living from hockey, including the players,” said Fehr. “But it comes as no surprise.”

It appears as though both sides have exhausted their most sacrificing offers and are unwilling, at this point, to give in further to the other side.  Some may point to the NBA lockout last year and confide in hope that the NHL can model that same resolution.

Contrary to what is largely reported, the numbers suggest the two sides being not far away on core economic issues.  The main area of conflict appears to be the league wanting an immediate player Hockey Related Revenues cut to 50 percent.  The players, on the other hand, want a slow decline in HRR cuts to eventually hit 50 percent in the final year of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.  The league is not being so lenient in their offers or responses.

There are a number of other issues that show notable differences between the two sides.  One being player contracts.

The players did agree to an immediate 50/50 split in HRR so long as “the league honoured the current contracts.”  Of course, the league did not comply and turned it down, along with two other proposals, within minutes.  Since that bold gesture, the NHLPA’s executive director doesn’t seem too enthusiastic.

“The only thing I’ll say about the conversation is, and we repeatedly get asked, ‘What is there in the NHL offer that moved in our direction?”‘ said Fehr. “My problem is all I can do is shrug my shoulders, because I don’t know what it is.”

With both sides still crossing their arms at one another, the fans have lost yet another month of NHL hockey.

Perhaps the most devastating thing to fans is that there will be no “Movember” this year in the NHL.  How dare they!

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