The National Hockey League (NHL) announced the cancelation of all games scheduled for next month on Friday because of the lockout that began last month when the NHL collective bargaining deal with players expired.
The move to wipe out all games through Nov. 30 came eight days after the NHL rejected three proposals from the NHL Players Association, in response to an Oct. 16 NHL offer for a six-year deal that was rejected by players.
A total of 326 regular-season games, 26.5 percent of the original six-month schedule, have been wiped out by the labor dispute as club owners and players fight over how to divide US$3.3 billion in annual revenues.
Owners presented a plan with a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenues, after players had enjoyed 57 percent under the old deal and owners had originally sought 57 percent for themselves in the new contract.
However, players found the NHL unwilling to budge when they submitted three proposals based upon the league’s offer, complaining the NHL-proposed deal would quickly leave them with shorter and poorer contracts, and players subsidizing other player deals.
“The National Hockey League deeply regrets having to take this action,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said 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,” he said.
“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,” he added.
The league’s self-imposed deadline for the players’ union to accept their earlier offer expired on Thursday and was pulled from the table. The league said it was the last chance to wedge in a full 82-game-per-club season without pushing the Stanley Cup Final into July, a move they refuse to consider.
“Last week the owners gave us what amounts to a ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ proposal,” NHL players’ union executive director Don Fehr said in a statement.
“We responded with the framework for three proposals on the players’ share, each of which moved significantly, towards their stated desire for a 50-50 split of [hockey-related revenues], with the only condition being that they honor contracts they have already signed. Honoring contracts signed between owners and players is a reasonable request. Unfortunately, after considering them for only 10 minutes they rejected all of our proposals,” he said.