The NHL on Friday canceled games through Nov. 1 in a move that was bound to occur regardless of what developed in the previous day’s labor negotiations.
Based on the league’s most recent proposal, a full 82-game season could commence Nov. 2 as long as a new collective bargaining agreement is in place by Thursday. The NHL previously canceled all scheduled regular season games through Oct. 24.
Three scheduled Capitals games were axed this time around: Oct. 27 at Calgary, Oct. 29 at Minnesota and Oct. 31 vs. Pittsburgh. In total, 135 games have been wiped out from Oct. 11-Nov. 1.
If there is no progress in negotiations between the NHL and NHLPA, though, it’s safe to anticipate a more significant round of cancellations will be on the way by the end of next week.
On Friday, the day after the NHL dismissed three offers from the players’ union in between 10-15 minutes, the group of locked out players on the ice in Arlington had dwindled to four: Jason Chimera, Jay Beagle, Mike Green and John Carlson. The group lost two participants this week, as Nicklas Backstrom headed to Russia, where he will play with Alex Ovechkin for KHL’s Dynamo Moscow and Matt Hendricks returned home to Minnesota.
Chimera, who experienced the 2004-05 lockout and has kept a close eye on negotiations this time around, said he believes there’s a deal to be had but that the NHLPA won’t be rushed by the league’s deadline to reach an agreement.
“It seems the boundaries are there to make a deal,” Chimera said. “We came down to 50-50 [shares of hockey-related revenue] because they want it and they’re at 50-50, so it’s just a matter of if they want to honor our contracts. If they said yes to that we could move forward and probably get it done in six hours.”
While the likelihood of the two sides coming to an agreement in the next six days to meet the NHL’s deadline is questionable at best, there remains the possibility that the 2012-13 season could start sooner rather than later. The players want to continue hoping that’s the case, at least.
“That’s the only thing that keeps us going. I’m not confident on it, that’s what I’m hoping,” Beagle said. “I could be naive and just be thinking that, but that’s what keeps you going as a player. If you start to think you’re going to lose a season or it’s going to be after Christmas — it’s depressing.”