Posted in: Hockey

NHL To Cancel November Games

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman

Another month of hockey could soon be crossed off the calendar. The NHL and the NHL Players’ Association have failed to come to an agreement before Thursday’s deadline and the league is expected cancel all the games in November.

The season hasn’t been scrapped yet but with no games in November the hope for a full 82 game season is quickly diminishing.

Yahoo reports that in addition to all of the regular season games that would have been played in November, the league will also cancel the Hall of Fame Game in Toronoto, which was scheduled for November 9, and the “NHL Thanksgiving Showdown” on November 23 between the New York Rangers and the Boston Bruins.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told ESPN that the league has been working to salvage a full 82 game season. Now that an 82 game season is in jeopardy, the league will have to work out a new proposal.

Daly said:

“When we delivered the proposal last Tuesday, we told them it would be on the table through today. Having not reached agreement through today, I expect that we’ll formally notify the union Friday that the proposal is no longer on the table. We’re going to take it back internally and figure out where we go from here. This proposal no longer works because it was a proposal to save 82 games … We have to re-think where we are, and what type of season we’re looking at, and we have to formulate and construct a proposal that makes sense for the reality of where we are.”

The NHL put a proposal on the table last Tuesday. The NHLPA countered with three proposals of their own, all of which were rejected within ten minutes.

NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr said he was not surprised the league said it would withdraw the offer. NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr said that the league had issued a “take it or leave it” offer and he wasn’t surprised to see the league withdraw their proposal today.

Fehr said:

“This is a standard approach. I think it was done in the NBA in the same way. Review the history here: They make a proposal, it’s essentially a take it or leave it, we respond on the core economics, they take 10 minutes and say no. They tell all the players if we’re agreeable to everything except the Make Whole (provision), including all the stuff that’s in there, I can give Gary a telephone call. And then we have made several efforts, including yesterday, to say we’re prepared to sit down and negotiate with no pre-conditions. They essentially said ‘No.’ It takes two to negotiate. They seem to be really good at imposing deadlines and issuing ultimatums and having lockouts. It seems to be something they’re well-practiced at.”

Regardless of who’s at fault, it doesn’t look like there will be any hockey in November. The league hasn’t cancelled any games yet but Daly said that “those decisions were imminent.” The league is expected to cancel all of the games scheduled for November.

Commissioner Gary Bettman said that the league was not going to Winter Classic yet but the league may be forced to in the next few weeks. The annual outdoor game is scheduled for January 1. It takes millions to stage the annual out door game and weeks to prepare. Bettman said that a decision about the New Years’ Day game would be made soon.

Bettman said:

“I’m not going to give you an exact timetable, but at some point in November … We will have to commit many millions of dollars to get ready for the Winter Classic, so if there’s still uncertainty, we’re going to have to make a decision and my guess is, we’re not going to commit those dollars unless we have certainty.”

A full 82 game season doesn’t look plausible but Fehr said that it was still possible. If the NHL and the NHLPA can come to an agreement next week it is still possible to play all 82 games.

Fehr said:

“The object is to get a settlement as soon as it’s possible to get one and to play as much up to 100 percent of the season as much as it’s physical to play … That obviously is going to be the objective or at least it always has been on the players’ side.”

Do you think we’ll see any NHL games this year?

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