The NHL has canceled all games through November 1, 2012, pushing the total of games wiped out so far to 135. A few weeks ago the league canceled all games from October 11-24. Labor negotiations remain contentious.
It is still possible that the NHL could have a full 82-game regular season if a deal is reached by Thursday, October 25, 2012. However, no further labor meetings are currently scheduled, so chances of a last minute deal are slim. If a last minute deal is reached, the NHL claims it would hold a one-week training camp before a full 82-game schedule could begin on November 2.
Owners and players still remain divided on how to split revenues. Last week, the players’ union rejected the NHL’s offer of a 50-50 split of all hockey related revenues, which also ensured a full regular season. In the old labor deal, players received 57 percent of all hockey related revenues.
If players do accept a proposal allowing revenue sharing to go down to 50 percent, they stand to lose $231 million per season. Even worse for the players, if the league grows at 5 percent per year, the loss could increase to $1.6 billion over the course of the new deal.
The union offered three counter proposals but they were all quickly rejected by the owners. According to union executive director Donald Fehr, two of the proposals would provide the players with a fixed amount of revenue. Over the course of the deal, this would eventually turn into a 50-50 split as long as league revenues continue to grow. For its third offer, the union proposed a 50-50 split, as long as all current contracts were honored.
NHL players have two main sticking points during the labor negotiations. First, during the last labor negotiations players agreed to a 24 percent salary cut and a salary cap. The owners are now asking for more cuts without any incentives for the players in return. Second, many players’ contracts were negotiated under the old deal, and they feel it is unfair to have to give back more salary this time around.
Since 1994 the NHL has had three lockouts. The last one caused the cancellation of the entire 2004-05 season. This was the only time a North American sports league lost an entire season due to a labor dispute.
If the labor dispute lasts a few more weeks, the NHL Winter Classic could also come in danger of being canceled. This year the Detroit Red Wings are set to face the Toronto Maple Leafs in an outdoor game scheduled to be held at Michigan Stadium. The stadium normally hosts the University of Michigan’s home football games and has a capacity over 107,000. If the game takes place it could set an attendance record for the biggest crowd at an NHL game.
According to TSN, if the games cancelled from October 11-24 are not made up, NHL players will have already lost $120 million. If the whole season is canceled the players stand to lose a total of $1.81 billion.