The NHL canceled the rest of the preseason on Thursday, just a day before negotiations were set to resume in an effort to end the lockout.
The league announced its second cancelation of preseason games in a two-sentence statement. NHL owners locked out players on Sept. 16, when the collective bargaining agreement expired.
The NHL had already called off all the exhibition games scheduled for this month. The regular season is supposed to begin on Oct. 11.
The two sides scheduled talks for yesterday in New York, although they are on secondary economic issues, as opposed to the core of the dispute, which is how to split more than US$3 billion in annual revenue. The NHL and the union last met for formal negotiations on Sept. 12, three days before the labor pact that ended the previous lockout — back in 2005 — ran out.
Now there is at least a glimmer of optimism as talks are expected to last through the weekend. If a deal is not reached soon, regular-season games will be called off.
In the most recent round of talks, both sides exchanged proposals on the core economic issues. The NHL made the last offer that day and said it has been waiting for the NHL Players’ Union to make a counteroffer.
“Obviously, we’ve got to talk before you can get a deal, so I think it’s important to get the talks going again,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said earlier this week. “But you also have to have something to say. I think it’s fair to say we feel like we need to hear from the players’ association in a meaningful way because I don’t think that they’ve really moved off their initial proposal, which was made more than a month ago now.”
The sides agreed to revisit secondary issues, including grievance procedures, travel, medical care and pensions and benefits.