NHL wipes out 53 more games as talks stall

Only days remain for a deal with the players in order to ensure a full season can be played

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 21 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 21 October, 2012, 1:50am

The NHL's next cuts will be the deepest and most costly.

With only days remaining to make a deal with the players' association on a new collective bargaining agreement that will allow for a full hockey season, the NHL cancelled another week of games.

A day after the NHL turned down three counter-proposals from players, the league wiped out 53 more games. A total of 135 games through November 1 have been scratched, which amounts to 11 per cent of the season.

"As expected," New York Rangers goalie Martin Biron said. "We continue to work hard to find an agreement and get back to playing hockey."

These lost games could still become mere postponements. If a new contract is reached with the union by Thursday, the NHL will be able to get the season under way on November 2, and each team will play all 82 games after a weeklong training camp.

However, a quick settlement to end the lockout sure seems like a long shot. Without a new deal, more games will be eliminated along with the hope of playing a full season.

In its third lockout since 1994, the NHL is sticking to its most recent proposal that stated an 82-game-per-team schedule could be played if the season begins by November 2. Two weeks ago, the league called off 82 games from October 11-24.

On Thursday, the union rejected the NHL's proposal made two days earlier that offered a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenues and ensured a full regular-season schedule. In brief talks, the players countered with a trio of offers that were, in turn, quickly dismissed by the league.

"We are disappointed that the NHL has cancelled more games as a result of the owners' lockout," said former player Mathieu Schneider, now the NHLPA special assistant to the executive director. "The players made another major move in the negotiations this week in an effort to end the lockout, by presenting the owners with a proposal that gets to a 50-50 split of revenues.

"In return, we expect that owners will honour the current contracts they have already signed, which everyone knows is fair."

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said he was "thoroughly disappointed" as he and the league delegation left union headquarters in Toronto on Thursday. Bettman said that the owners' proposal was the "best that we could do" and added that the sides are still far apart.

"None of the three variations of player share that they gave us even began to approach 50-50."