NHL cancels first two weeks of season due to labor dispute
New York, NY, United States (4E Sports) – The NHL has cancelled the first two weeks of the regular season, or 82 games from Oct. 11 to Oct. 24, after recent talks between the league and the players union broke off with no settlement in sight.
“We were extremely disappointed to have to make today’s announcement. The game deserves better, the fans deserve better and the people who derive income from their connection to the NHL deserve better,” said NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly.
Daly also reiterated the league’s commitment 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,” he said.
Daly refused to say whether the cancelled games could be rescheduled if a new collective bargaining agreement will be reached.
“If and when we reach a deal with the players association we would work with them to reconfigure a schedule,” Daly said. “Would be subject to a lot of considerations, probably the most important of which is being mindful of the health and safety of the players.”
“The decision to cancel the first two weeks of the season is the unilateral choice of the NHL owners,” said NHL Players’ Association executive director Donald Fehr, who reiterated his call on team owners to lift the lockout and allow the season to begin on time while talks continue.
“A lockout should be the last resort in bargaining, not the strategy of first resort,” Fehr emphasized.
The two sides are at a standstill regarding hockey-related revenue. The owners want to reduce the players’ share from 57 percent to about 47 percent. The union has offered to accept diminished pay raises that would reduce players’ share of revenue to about 53 percent.
About 100 players have signed with foreign teams since the lockout began. During the 2004-05 lockout, when the whole season was canceled, nearly 400 players joined European leagues.