The National Hockey League announced today the cancellation of the 2012-13 regular-season schedule through December 30. The cancellations are necessary due to the absence of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NHL Players' Association and the NHL.
A total of 526 regular-season games—42.8 percent of the season—were scheduled for October 11 through December 30.
Further NHL regular season cancellations today. Thru Dec 30th.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) December 10, 2012
UPDATE: Monday, December 10 at 2:10 p.m. ET by Timothy Rapp
Sorry, hockey fans, but the NHL has officially cancelled the remainder of December's schedule games. From NHL.com:
Folks, things are looking bleak. If there is a season, I'll be truly surprised.
---End of Update---
Mark Spector of Sportsnet.ca also has some bad news to share with hockey fans.
As we await further game cancellations today, thru end of Dec., an exec tells me: "We're not close. We do not trust this group."— Mark Spector Sports (@SportsnetSpec) December 10, 2012
The good news is that talks could start up again this week, according to Tim Panaccio of CSN Philadelphia.
even if NHL kills rest of DEC, the sked was gonna change, anyway. #cba talks should resume this wk at a neutral site— Tim Panaccio (@tpanotchCSN) December 10, 2012
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in his press conference on Thursday (via NHL.com) that a total of 48 games is the lowest the league will go if there is a 2012-13 season. That means a new CBA probably has to be reached by mid-January at the latest to ensure the season starts after a week of training camp and practices.
The loss of more regular-season games only complicates the CBA talks between the owners and players because now there will be even less revenue to split up for the 2012-13 season.
Bettman also said on Thursday that the two sides have not figured out how to transition from the lockout into the season.
NHLers who weren't on teams that made the playoffs last season, and didn't go overseas to play during the lockout, haven't played competitive hockey at a high level since April. That's a long time for a hockey player to not play in any real games.
There are a few possible start dates for the 2012-13 season if the NHL and its players get their act together and work out a new agreement in the next few weeks.
New Year's Eve would be a good date to open the season because many people have this night off and are up late waiting to celebrate the New Year. People could attend games and still spend time with family and friends afterward. New Year's Day is also a logical start date.
The problem for the NHL is that as you get further into January, college football bowl games and NFL playoffs start to dominate the sports landscape.
To step back into the sports calendar in a way that will grab fans' attention (especially casual fans), the NHL needs to end the lockout and start the regular season as soon as possible. Starting the season in the middle of the NFL playoffs would not be ideal.
Monday's cancellations are disappointing, but there is still over a month for the two sides to make a deal. There might be only one more batch of cancellations before the NHL is forced to cancel the entire 2012-13 season.