The NHL lockout is growing perilously closer to wiping out the entire 2012-2013 season as negotiations between the league and NHL Players Association have no time left to spare after the league canceled games through January 15.
As the impasse between the NHL and NHLPA dragged on, the league has continually increased the number of canceled games. The latest announcement, which came Wednesday, states that the league has called off games through mid-January, which is believed to be the cut-off point for the season starting.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has said he doesn’t want the season to start with any fewer than 48 games, which would mean the season needs to start near the January 15 cutoff point.
The NHLPA said it is ready to come back to the negotiating table, ESPN reported. Donald Fehr, head of the NHLPA, said he is anxious to meet with owners again to try to avoid the NHL lockout wiping out the season.
“We have to find a way to have discussions, because it’s very hard to come to an agreement if you’re not talking to one another,” Fehr said. “It’s very hard to come to an agreement if you set preconditions to the negotiations, too.”
The NHL lockout has begun to hurt other businesses outside of hockey, the Wall Street Journal reported. In hockey-starved Buffalo, restaurant owner Lou Billittier said the lack of hockey is bad for business.
“It’s amazing the trickle-down effect,” Billittier said. “It bothers me, not only because we’re down, but it affects everything. Our community out-reach, we can’t donate to the people we normally donate to. It’s brutal.”
There could be hope for the NHL lockout ending. When asked if he thinks there will be hockey this year, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly had an optimistic one word answer — yes.