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Monday, September 20, 2004
League has told teams they can free up buildings

Associated Press

The Pittsburgh Penguins canceled their home preseason schedule and the regular-season opener on Monday because of the NHL lockout that threatens to wipe out the entire season.

The collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and the players association expired last week. The sides have remained far apart in talks for a new deal, so the league locked out its players when the contract ran out Wednesday.

With no negotiations scheduled, the entire season is in jeopardy. The NHL has threatened to keep players off the ice as long as necessary to achieve "cost certainty" for its clubs.

The NHLPA says that is tantamount to a salary cap, an option it refuses to accept.

The Penguins were supposed to play exhibition games against Washington, Columbus, Boston and Ottawa. The regular home opener was scheduled for Oct. 16.

"Games will continue to be canceled on a similar basis until the league's labor dispute with the NHLPA has been resolved, at which time the league will address the potential rescheduling of games," Penguins president Ken Sawyer said.

The San Jose Sharks canceled their home preseason schedule and the first two regular-season home games on Friday.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told the 30 NHL teams that they can release building dates for games scheduled up to 30 days after Sept. 15, the day the lockout began. That 30-day cancelation period will be a rolling buffer, meaning games can be canceled each day the lockout continues.

The NHL began laying off its employees on Monday, and said more than 100 members of its central staff of about 225 will have their jobs terminated.

Some NHL players found games to play on Monday when they should have been in North American training camps. And clearly they could have used the practice.

Edmonton Oilers center Shawn Horcoff spent most of the second period in the penalty box, and Henrik Zetterberg and Tomas Holmstrom of the Detroit Red Wings also had tough times with new teams in the Swedish Elite League.

Horcoff had no points for Mora, a newcomer in Europe's top hockey league, in its 1-1 tie with favorite Farjestad. Christian Berglund of the Florida Panthers set up Farjestad's tying goal, but blew a potential game-winner in overtime when he failed to score on a breakaway.

Holmstrom managed one assist for Lulea in a 5-0 victory over Timra.

Seven-time NHL All-Star Peter Forsberg is expected to return Tuesday to his former team, Modo. But unlike most of the other NHL players, Forsberg is expected to play the entire season in Sweden regardless of whether the lockout ends.