First the preseason was canceled. Then the employees – including mascots – had their jobs cut. Now the regular season is suffering the same fate.
NHL league officials announced Thursday that the first two weeks of the 2012-13 regular season have been canceled, eliminating 82 games from the league’s schedule through October 24.
“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,” Donald Fehr, the executive director of the NHLPA, said in a statement. “A lockout should be the last resort in bargaining, not the strategy of first resort.”
Both sides still don’t appear any closer to solving this whole mess; in fact both the owners and the players seem more distant than ever and neither have emerged victorious in the fight for more money. Meetings are conducted with lengthy gaps in between, while neither side wants to budge on any of the issues at hand. This leaves little hope for the rest of us – the one’s that pay their salary.
It’s hard to keep optimism when we are living a rerun of the 2004-2005 season but there’s still a lot of time do get something worked out. Hopefully the two can begin to take small steps towards meeting at a middle ground – but time is ticking. NHL players will receive their final check from the league on October 11 which is an escrow payment for salary withheld for accounting purposes from last season and then they’ll miss out on their twice-monthly paychecks. Let’s hope it will be a wake-up call.
The league itself has already lost upwards of $160 million just from the lack of preseason games.
If a deal is struck and the NHL returns in the next two weeks, it could still try to squeeze in an 82-game season in the time allotted. However, it might be a daunting task to retrieve the nearly 100 players that have scattered throughout various European leagues to keep active and earn a paycheck during lockout.
For now, we’re just going to continue to keep track of what’s happening in Europe and in the American Hockey League – and watch historic replays on the NHL Network.
Photo Credit: Bill Streicher/Icon SMI