NHL Cancels Games Through Dec 30: Can the Season Be Saved?

Steve SilvermanFeatured Columnist IVDecember 23, 2016

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 05: Following the NHL Board of Governors meeting, Commissioner Gary Bettman of the National Hockey League heads uptown to address the media at the Westin Times Square on December 5, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The NHL continues to methodically chop games off the schedule.

The latest round of cancellations includes games scheduled from Dec. 14 through Dec. 30, according to TSN's Darren Dreger.


Further NHL regular season cancellations today. Thru Dec 30th.

— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger)


A total of 527 regular-season games have now been canceled.

If the season is going to be saved, it looks as if teams will play a regular season of between 48 and 56 games.

When the 1994-95 season was marred by a lockout, the NHL played a 48-game regular season.

That appears to be the minimum that the league would allow if an agreement between the NHL and the NHL Players' Association can be reached.

However, it now appears to be no better than a 50-50 proposition that an agreement can be reached. While both sides appear to be close on the issues—at least according to NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr—it seems that neither side wants to make the final move that would allow a new Collective Bargaining Agreement to be signed.

Last week, negotiations were held between the players and owners. Neither commissioner Gary Bettman nor Fehr was present and significant progress was made in the talks.

However, when Bettman and Fehr returned to the negotiations, the talks broke down between the two sides.

If both sides are simply interested in getting a "win" in the negotiations or lessening the sting of the defeat, there is a very good chance that an agreement will not be reached and the season will be canceled as it was in 2004-05.

However, if there is a significant attitude change and both Bettman and Fehr decide they want to get a deal done so NHL players can return to the ice, an agreement between the NHL and NHLPA is a legitimate possibility.

That means that both sides must sit at the negotiating table and come to an agreement. One side cannot just get up and walk out when they hear something they don't like coming from the other side.

"Maturity" must be the watchword from this point forward.

The biggest issue between the two sides is contract term lengths. The NHL wants to limit long-term contracts to five years. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly has said that this issue is "the hill we will die on." (via www.cbc.ca)

Other remaining issues include the length of the CBA and whether player buyouts should count against the cap.

Bettman and Fehr have rubbed each other the wrong way throughout the process, and Bettman has shown the tendency to storm out of the talks whenever he hears something he doesn't like.

This type of brinksmanship is now working against the NHL. If hockey is going to be played in 2012-13, those type of tactics have to come to an end, and the two sides must work like adults instead of throwing tantrums like children.