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NHL lockout: NHL cancels regular season schedule through November

By Adam Gretz | Hockey writer
The NHL canceled the regular season schedule through November. (Getty Images)

The NHL made it official on Friday and did what had been expected for several days now.

The league canceled the entire schedule for the month of November, bringing the total number of games missed in the NHL lockout to 326.

This also eliminates any hope of the league playing a full 82-game schedule during the 2012-13 season. According to the league the deadline for salvaging the full season was Thursday, and that deadline passed without any new talks. The NHLPA attempted to meet with the league on Wednesday but was turned away because in the NHL's view there was nothing to talk about at that point.

"The National Hockey League deeply regrets having to take this action," said deputy commissioner Bill Daly in a statement. "By presenting a proposal to the NHLPA that contemplated a fair division of revenues and was responsive to Player concerns regarding the value of their contracts, we had hoped to be able to forge a long-term Collective Bargaining Agreement that would have preserved an 82-game Regular Season for our fans. Unfortunately, that did not occur.

"We acknowledge and accept that there is joint responsibility in collective bargaining and, though we are profoundly disappointed that a new agreement has not been attained to this point, we remain committed to achieving an agreement that is fair for the Players and the Clubs -- one that will be good for the game and our fans."

This latest round of cancelations does not include the Jan. 1 Winter Classic in Ann Arbor, Michigan, or the NHL All-Star game on Jan. 27 in Columbus, Ohio, but those games appear to be hanging by a thread. Daly did however refute a report that the cancelation could come as early as Monday.

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The league needs to make payments to the University of Michigan and sponsors by the middle of November for the Winter Classic to take place. The league will not want to commit that money if it isn't sure the game will go on as scheduled. It had previously been reported that the league would cancel the Winter Classic as early as November if no new agreement had been reached on a collective bargaining agreement.

If that game does get canceled it will be a financial blow to the city of Detroit as well as the league itself. The Winter Classic has become the signature event of the NHL regular season and has taken place every year since 2008. This year's game is supposed to feature the Detroit Red Wings hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs in an Original Six matchup.

At this point, the best-case scenario for the NHL is a starting date of Dec. 1 and a shortened schedule. How many games would be played remains to be seen. The 1994-95 lockout canceled a large chunk of that season and a 48-game season started in the middle of January -- so it stands to reason that a 60-plus game schedule could still be salvaged. If a shortened season does start, the schedule will obviously have to be reconfigured, and the first casualties will likely be interconference games. The 1994-95 season, for example, featured no interconference games.

The NHL and NHLPA exchanged multiple proposals last week, including three different ones from the players last Thursday. All of them were rejected by the league within 10 minutes.

When Thursday's deadline passed the NHL pulled its most recent offer (detailed here) off the table, which shouldn't be a surprise as that offer was made with the intention of playing a full 82-game schedule. That is now no longer a possibility.

The key issue, among many smaller issues, is still how the two sides will split the pool of hockey related revenue. Both sides have presented ideas that feature 50-50 splits, but they have different timeframes on when they will arrive there. The league wants the 50-50 split to start as early as this season, while the players' proposals sees the split gradually decrease over a number of years. That was not acceptable in the eyes of the league.

Under the previous agreement the players received 57 percent of the hockey related revenue.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

 
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