Lockout forces cancellation to start of regular season
The real losses have begun.
Two weeks of the NHL’s regular season was wiped off the calendar Thursday and it appears almost certain those won’t be the only meaningful games sacrificed during the lockout.
It’s an all-too familiar position for the league, which attempted to strike a conciliatory tone in announcing the cancellation of the opening 82 games of the 2012-13 season.
“The game deserves better, the fans deserve better and the people who derive income from their connection to the NHL deserve better,” said deputy commissioner Bill Daly. “We remain committed to doing everything in our power to forge an agreement that is fair to the players, fair to the teams and good for our fans.”
The sport has simply been unable to break free from its recent history of labour unrest. It lost 468 games during the lockout-shortened 1994-95 season and all 1,320 regular-season games that were scheduled in 2004-05, which was wiped out in its entirety by another work stoppage.
The earliest this season could start is Oct. 25.
While it remains possible some of Thursday’s cancelled games could still be tacked on to the schedule, it would require a major change in the direction of talks — not to mention a quick solution.
That seemed extremely unlikely with no bargaining sessions scheduled and the lockout about to enter its fourth week. The sides really haven’t got down to meaningful negotiations despite meeting regularly since the end of June.
Donald Fehr, the NHLPA’s executive director, once again criticized owners for enacting the lockout last month. He also questioned their motives in light of the cancellations.
“If the owners truly cared about the game and the fans, they would lift the lockout and allow the season to begin on time while negotiations continue,” said Fehr. “A lockout should be the last resort in bargaining, not the strategy of first resort.”