NEW YORK (AFP) –
National Hockey League officials announced on Thursday they were calling off the remainder of the pre-season exhibition schedule because of the ongoing lockout in a money dispute with players.
The NHL had already called off all pre-season games through this coming Sunday as a result of the inability to sign a new collective bargaining agreement with players to replace the one that expired September 15.
Talks between NHL officials and the NHL Players Association were scheduled to resume on Friday, the first negotiations since the league imposed the lockout. League officials have kept the weekend open for talks as well.
“We have agreed on an agenda of topics that we think can lead to productive discussions and agreement, and we hope that it will be constructive to the overall process,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said.
“We’re 100 percent focused on not missing any regular-season games and hopefully we can achieve that objective.”
The NHL’s 2012-2013 regular season is scheduled to start on October 11, meaning clubs would have less than two weeks to assemble teams and conduct workouts even if a deal should be reached this weekend.
Players have received 57 percent of revenues under the old deal while NHL team owners have pushed for as much as 57 percent for themselves in a new contract in the wake of gains by owners in NFL and NBA lockouts last year.
NHL revenues have grown from $2.1 billion to $3.3 billion since a lockout wiped out the entire 2004-2005 NHL season.