Toronto, ON, Canada (4E Sports) – NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly has declared that the season’s “point of no return” will be mid-January, adding that more games will be shelved before Christmas as the labor dispute remains.
“It’s fair to say that’s sometime in mid-January,” Daly said during an interview with Sportsnet The Fan 590.
The date mentioned by Daly is much earlier compared to what happened during the 2004-2005 season when the league formally announced the cancellation Feb. 16.
The lockout has dragged on for 96 days and no talks are scheduled between the league and the players after negotiations broke down several weeks ago.
The league has already cancelled 526 games and more are expected as no new labor deal is in sight to end the impasse.
“There are a lot of open issues. We are prepared to shut down the industry over a deal that is not right for our owners,” Daly said. “That’s what we are prepared to do.”
Commissioner Gary Bettman earlier said that the NHL is not looking to play a season with less than 48 games.
According to Daly, a 48-game season is feasible if play will start in mid-January, based on arena availability and how they can compress the schedule.
However, Daly said there are still many issues to be decided before any agreement is reached.
“Players want to turn a large number of issues into a small number,” Daly said. “But quite frankly even their small numbers are bigger than they want to admit”.
Also, Daly admitted the lockout could have an impact on fans and sponsors.
“But there is nobody fooling anybody. Right now we’re not playing hockey. That’s not a good thing for our brand or our sport,” he said.