(Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)


For NHLers who aren’t playing during the lockout, taking part in week after week of training with no definitive end date required a different mental approach. But following the NHL’s latest round of cancellations announced Thursday, which erased the schedule through Jan. 14, the winding road of labor negations will soon take its biggest turn yet.

“It might be different for other people but, for me, the fact that it has to come to a halt here, is a good thing mentally,” Capitals forward Jay Beagle said this week. “One way or another, with us getting a deal done soon or them canceling the season, we’ll know. Right now, it’s something that you can work for. It’s almost like working for training camp now.”

These cancellations bring the total number of regular season contests lost to the lockout, now in its 95th day, to 625 – 50.8 percent of the 2012-13 season. It also sets up a final chance for the NHL and NHLPA to reach a new collective bargaining agreement in time to salvage a minimum 48-game season.

During a radio appearance Wednesday, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said the deadline to settle the labor dispute is “sometime in mid-January.” By the new year, players will have lost six of their 13 scheduled paychecks and most can’t believe the labor dispute is still ongoing.

“I’m more astounded that it’s lasted this long, that our differences can’t be worked out,” Troy Brouwer said. “It’s unbelievable to think that common ground can’t be met here.”

Said Jason Chimera: “It’s Christmastime and you’re still not playing hockey. There’s something very wrong with that.” 

Forty-three Capitals games have been cancelled because of the lockout, with six more getting crossed off the slate Thursday:

Dec. 31 at Pittsburgh

Jan. 3 at Carolina

Jan. 5 vs. Chicago

Jan. 7 at Toronto

Jan. 9 vs. Ottawa

Jan. 11 at Tampa Bay