Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Posted: 12/11/2012 3:19 AM | Comments: 0
The question now is whether the latest NHL lockout will result in a shortened season like 1994-95 or a scrapped season like 2004-05.
As the league cancelled the rest of its schedule through Dec. 30 on Monday afternoon, it brought one more reminder of how close the NHL and NHL Players' Association are getting to a make-or-break moment.
Even though commissioner Gary Bettman hasn't set a drop-dead date for saving this season, he does believe each team must play 48 games to make it legitimate. For that to happen, the puck will need to drop by about mid-January.
"When it gets to the point where we can't play a season with integrity, with a representative schedule, then we'll be done," Bettman said last week. "If you go back in history, in '94-95 I think we played 48 games. I can't imagine wanting to play fewer than that."
The latest round of cancellations brought the NHL's total to 526 regular-season games -- or roughly 43 per cent of the schedule. The Jan. 1 Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium and Jan. 27 all-star game in Columbus have also been wiped away.
Neither the union nor league issued statements after the cancellations were announced.
There had been hope as recently as last week that the lockout could be ended in time to drop the puck over the holidays, with one report suggesting the season might start on Christmas Day. Now the earliest that will happen is New Year's Eve, which was already due to see 13 games played under the original schedule.
Talks between the NHL and NHLPA broke down in dramatic fashion last week. They haven't scheduled any further sessions, although both sides have expressed interest in returning to the bargaining table this week.
There appeared to be hope the start of the 2012-13 season was imminent when NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr met reporters on Thursday night in New York after delivering a new proposal to the league. He claimed the sides had found agreement on virtually all of the key issues.
However, Fehr later returned and said the NHL had rejected the offer and pulled its own off the table.
Despite that, the union leader believes a deal isn't very far off.
"My comments from a couple of days ago stand on their own," Fehr said Saturday. "I think we were very close."
Deputy commissioner Bill Daly laid out the three key areas where he felt they remained apart. As part of an offer of US$300 million in deferred payments and a 50-50 split of revenues, the owners wanted:
-- A 10-year term for the CBA, with a reopener after eight years (the NHLPA offered eight years, with an option to opt out after Year 6).
-- No compliance buyouts, which would allow teams to buy out contracts without being penalized by the salary cap.
-- Contract term limits of five years for free agents and seven years for a team's own players, which Daly described as "the hill we will die on." The NHLPA proposed an eight-year cap on contracts.
After becoming the first North American sports league to cancel an entire season because of a labour dispute eight years ago, the NHL is trying to avoid doing it again. That round of negotiations stretched into February and saw the sides contemplate making a deal that would save a 28-game schedule before Bettman pulled the plug.
All indications are that the scenario won't be repeated.
Instead, they'll be looking at the timeframe established in 1995, when the lockout ended Jan. 11 and the puck was dropped Jan. 20. The regular season ran through May 3 and saw the Stanley Cup awarded June 24.
The most recent NHL cancellations will ensure players are denied two more paycheques, which will bring the total they've missed to six. It's proving to be a costly lockout for all involved.
Progress was made in the last round of talks with Fehr and Bettman left on the sidelines and a new group of owners and players at the table. However, the leaders are likely to be back in the room when negotiations resume.
-- The Canadian Press
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 11, 2012 C2
Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories? Please use the form below and let us know.
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
Kings get cap relief while Voynov suspended
Looks like Stone will be a long-term Senator
Khokhlachev shootout goal lifts Bruins by Jackets
Islanders beat Penguins 5-4 in shootout
Kings given salary cap relief for suspended Voynov
Sharks trade Demers to Stars for Dillon
NHL teams slowly embracing advance statistics
Dallas Stars sign Spezza to $30M, 4-year deal
Stricken Howe showing small improvement
Kesler, Ducks triumph in return to Vancouver
Bjugstad leads Panthers to 3-2 SO win over Sharks
LA Kings hold off Carolina 3-2 for 10th home win
Pacioretty, Habs have statement win over Blues
Kane's late goal lifts Blackhawks over Flames
Ovechkin's late goal lifts Capitals over Avalanche
Stars score 3 in 3rd period to rally past Coyotes
Zucker's late goal lifts Wild past Flyers, 3-2
Forsberg proud, humbled by Hall of Fame induction
Flyers induct Lindros, LeClair into Hall of Fame
Oilers send Acton to Cancuks for Lain
LA Kings' Voynov charged with domestic violence
Blue Jackets' Jack Johnson files for bankruptcy
Blackhawks D van Reimsdyk has knee surgery
Sabres home game against Rangers postponed by NHL
Dupuis will miss six months
Vrbata leads Canucks past Oilers 5-4
Rangers' Talbot shuts out Flyers 2-0 for 1st win
Red Wings recall Ouellet, put Smith in 7-day IR
Blackhawks looking for consistency on circus trip
Irbe enjoys brief 2-period NHL return with Sabres
Otters win first game without McDavid
Sabres call up goalie Lieuwen from minors
Leafs looking for answers after ugly losses
Lindros set to take place in Flyers Hall of Fame
Jackets assign centre Chaput to AHL Springfield
Penguins forward Dupuis out with blood clot
Blackhawks D van Reimsdyk scheduled for surgery