Lockout-hit league scraps games though Dec 14
NEW YORK (AFP) –
The National Hockey League lost another showcase event to its ongoing lockout on Friday, announcing the cancellation of the 2013 All-Star game along with another fortnight of regular-season contests.
With games now cancelled through December 14, the lockout has now cost the NHL 422 regular-season games, 34.3 percent of the scheduled season.
The All-Star Game, which was to have been in Columbus, Ohio, on January 27, is the second marquee event to go, after the January 1 Winter Classic outdoor game.
“The reality of losing more regular-season games as well as the 2013 NHL All-Star Weekend in Columbus is extremely disappointing,” said NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly.
“We feel badly for NHL fans and particularly those in Columbus, and we intend to work closely with the Blue Jackets organization to return the NHL All-Star events to Columbus and their fans as quickly as possible.”
The latest round of cancellations comes two days after contract negotiations between league owners and players again reached a stalemate.
The Players’ Association made a new offer on Wednesday morning which the owners rejected.
“We’re still far apart,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said on Wednesday. “But hopefully there’s some momentum so we can bring this process to a successful conclusion.”
Bettman said that the league business is losing between $18 million to $20 million per day, while players are losing between $8 million to $10 million per day.
“To expect our best economic proposal to get better as the damage continues to increase isn’t particularly realistic,” Bettman said.
NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr came out of Wednesday’s talks sounding similarly pesssimistic.
“On the big things there was as of today no reciprocity in any meaningful sense, no movement on the players’ share, no movement on salary-arbitration eligibility, no movement on free agency eligibility, no agreement on a pension plan,” Fehr said.
Both sides have been deadlocked on how to divide $3.3 billion in revenues since their collective bargaining agreement expired on September 15.
In their latest proposal, the players union offered to link the players’ share to revenue in the percentage-based system preferred by the league, a concession after prior player proposals for a guaranteed player amount.
ESPNNewYork.com reported that the owners baulked at the amount players demanded for a “Make Whole” provision designed to honor existing contracts.
The NHL, which lost the entire 2004-2005 season to a bitter labor dispute, had been scheduled to open its regular season on November 2.