The news for NHL fans keeps getting worse as the league canceled the first two weeks of the regular season in an announcement Thursday, October 4. It has not been decided if the 82 postponed games will be rescheduled if an agreement is made in the near future.
Owners and the NHL Players Association have been unable to reach an agreement on how to split $3 billion in hockey-related revenues. Opening night was scheduled to begin with four games on October 11.
News of the cancelations came in a two paragraph statement released by the NHL. However, if a deal can be reached soon the games could possibly be made up allowing for a complete NHL regular season.
ESPN reports that the league has already lost $100 million in revenues from preseason games that were all canceled. If the 82 canceled regular season games are not made up, it will allegedly cost $120 million in total salary for NHL players, according to TSN.
The games that would have started the NHL season would have included Boston at Philidelphia and St. Louis at Colorado. Canadian fans will possibly not get to see Montreal take on Ottawa or Vancouver play at Calgary. Defending Stanley Cup Champions Los Angeles were scheduled to take on the New York Rangers the following night, but that is now in jeopardy as well.
According to The New York Times, NHL Deputy commissioner Bill Daly commented on the cancellation of the first two weeks stating, “The game deserves better, the fans deserve better and the people who derive income from their connection to the NHL deserve better.”
The good news for fans is that the two sides have been meeting, although not a lot of progess has been made about core economic issues. During the lockout of the 2004-05 season the two sides did not meet from early September through early December. This resulted in the entire season being cancelled that year.
After the last lockout a salary cap was created for the first time in NHL history. The league was able to produce record revenues during the seven year deal. Since this deal worked out so well for the players, the owners want to renegotiate a deal with them so they can get a bigger piece of those revenues.
During the last deal that expired on September 15, the players received 57 percent of hockey-related revenue. The NHL now wants to lower that number between 47-50 percent.
While it is hopeful that the two sides keep meeting about the issues causing the lockout, until a deal is reached the situation seems grim with many NHL players opting to join European leagues for the time being. TSN reports the earliest we could see players take the ice would be October 25.