October 5, 2012

First two weeks of hockey season lost

The players' union contends the decision to cancel the opening games was made solely by the owners.

The Associated Press

NEW YORK - What seemed inevitable for the NHL has now become reality. The league canceled the first two weeks of the regular season Thursday, the second time games have been lost because of a lockout in seven years.

FEHR
click image to enlarge

Donald Fehr, NHLPA executive director

The initial announcement was made in a two-paragraph statement from the league. It isn't clear if those games will be made up, allowing for a complete 82-game regular season if a deal can be struck soon with the locked-out players.

Unable to work out how to split up $3 billion in hockey-related revenues with the players' association, the NHL wiped out 82 games from Oct. 11 through Oct. 24 -- beginning with four next Thursday, which would have been the league's opening night.

"We were extremely disappointed to have to make today's announcement," NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement. "The game deserves better, the fans deserve better, and the people who derive income from their connection to the NHL deserve better.

"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. This is not about 'winning' or 'losing' a negotiation. This is about finding a solution that preserves the long-term health and stability of the league and the game. We are committed to getting this done."

The union countered Thursday by saying the NHL forced the lockout onto the players instead of letting the season go on as planned.

"The decision to cancel the first two weeks of the NHL season is the unilateral choice of the NHL owners," NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr said in a statement. "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.

"A lockout should be the last resort in bargaining, not the strategy of first resort," he added. "For nearly 20 years, the owners have elected to lock out the players in an effort to secure massive concessions. Nevertheless, the players remain committed to playing hockey while the parties work to reach a deal that is fair for both sides. We hope we will soon have a willing negotiating partner."

Although there have been negotiations between the league and players in recent days -- unlike a three-month break at the start of the 2004-05 lockout that forced the cancellation of the entire season -- the two sides haven't gotten any closer to a deal on core economic issues.

"Obviously, (cancellations) might have been expected but it's also disappointing because we set out to negotiate," New York Rangers goalie Martin Biron said in a telephone interview. "We wanted to get a deal and wanted to avoid a work stoppage or any cancellations.

"We're still working hard to find a solution and find a way to get the core economic stuff figured out with the league, and getting a deal that is fair for everybody and lasts."

In the previous lockout, the NHL and the union didn't get together between early September and early December.

Back then, the key words in the negotiations were salary cap, linkage and cost certainty.

Commissioner Gary Bettman and the owners were committed to getting a deal that linked team costs to revenues, so each club would know exactly how much it had to spend on payroll and what number it couldn't exceed.

Thus a salary cap was born for the first time in NHL history.

The league produced record revenue during the seven years of that deal, which turned out much better for the players than expected.

(Continued on page 2)

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors




Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)


 

Blogs

Clearing the Bases - Friday
Pitching, pitching, pitching

More PPH Blogs

Winter sports 2013-2014

High School Football 2013

Fall sports photos