- Katie Strang, ESPN.com
- 0 Shares
The National Hockey League announced another round of cancellations on Friday, wiping out all regular-season games through Dec. 14, as well as the All-Star Game in Columbus, Ohio, originally slated for Jan. 27.
The lockout now has cost the league 422 regular-season games -- 34.3 percent of the season -- as well as all of its marquee events; the annual Winter Classic was canceled earlier this month.
"The reality of losing more regular-season games as well as the 2013 NHL All-Star Weekend in Columbus is extremely disappointing," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement. "We feel badly for NHL fans and particularly those in Columbus, and we intend to work closely with the Blue Jackets organization to return the NHL All-Star events to Columbus and their fans as quickly as possible."
Given the lack of progress between the NHL and NHLPA, many fear the next cancellation could be that of the entire season altogether.
Friday's announcement comes two days after the latest standoff between the NHL and NHLPA. The union submitted a new proposal at the league's request on Wednesday, but that offer was rebuffed, leaving the players and owners at loggerheads once again.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the two sides remain "far apart," while NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr said the league's response to what he deemed a "dramatic move" in the owner's direction was essentially "thanks, but no thanks."
In the latest proposal, the union offered to link the players' share to revenue in the league's preferred percentage-based system -- a substantial concession considering the guaranteed player amount featured in player proposals -- although there remain some serious concerns among owners about the offer.
Multiple sources told ESPNNewYork.com the owners' side objects to the amount asked for in the union's Make Whole plan to honor existing contracts -- $393 million, compared to the league's last offer of $211 million -- as well as a provision that guarantees the players share to some degree.
The provision says that, starting in Year 2, the players cannot make less in share than the previous year, thereby protecting against the potential devaluation of the Canadian dollar of a possible decline in revenue.
Bettman said Wednesday the damage incurred from the lockout has resulted in the league losing between $18 to $20 million by the day.
"To expect our best economic proposal to get better as the damage continues to increase isn't particularly realistic," Bettman said.
In a statement Friday, Fehr said the gap between the two sides on "core economic issues is $182 million," or just 10 days worth of money the NHL is currently losing by not playing games.
"It makes the NHL's announcement of further game cancellations, including the 2013 All-Star Weekend, all the more unnecessary, and disappointing for all hockey fans -- especially those in Columbus," Fehr said. "The players remain ready to negotiate but we require a willing negotiating partner."
The rejection of yet another proposal -- one that was the result of a push among the NHLPA's moderates, a source told ESPNNewYork.com -- has angered players within the union's ranks.
Some players have raised the issue of decertification as a potential option moving forward, which essentially would disband the union and allow the players to file an antitrust lawsuit against the NHL.
"After watching the other sport leagues go through labor disputes last year, it is apparent that until decertification is filed, there will not be any real movement or negotiation," Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller told The Globe and Mail.
"They want to see if we will take a bad deal because we get desperate or if we have the strength to push back. Decertification is a push back and should show we want a negotiation and a fair deal on at least some of our terms."
13dScott Burnside and Craig Custance