NHL cancels more games; total at 135

Updated: October 19, 2012, 6:49 PM ET
By Katie Strang | ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- A day after labor talks stalled again between the NHL and the Players' Association, the league announced the cancellation of all regular-season games through Nov. 1.

It is the second round of game cancellations since the lockout went into effect Sept. 19. Earlier this month, the NHL eliminated the first block of regular-season games through Oct. 24. A total of 135 games are canceled, which amounts to 11 percent of the season.

"As expected," New York Rangers goalie Martin Biron told The Associated Press in a text message. "We continue to work hard to find an agreement and get back to playing hockey."

More bad news appears to be on the way.

The NHL is expected to make much more significant cancellations by the end of next week if a deal is not reached, a source with knowledge of the league's thinking told ESPNNewYork.com.

The players will be receiving some payment soon, though, as the NHL and NHLPA have made official last season's escrow payable to NHL players, both sides confirmed to ESPN.com. Players will get back 7.98 percent of the 8.5 percent held in escrow from last season. They will receive the checks before the end of the month.

Despite the cancellations announced Friday -- the games are technically characterized as being "postponed" -- there still remains the possibility of the league playing an 82-game regular season.

The league on Tuesday submitted its first proposal in more than a month to the union, an offer that was viewed as a "starting point," with the intention of salvaging the entire season. Commissioner Gary Bettman said the league still could fit in all 82 games if a deal was brokered and play resumed by Nov. 2.

If next Thursday's deadline passes, more games will likely be cut, and the New Year's Day Winter Classic will be the next big event in danger of being lost. The Detroit Red Wings are slated to host the Toronto Maple Leafs in the outdoor extravaganza at Michigan Stadium.

Negotiations hit a snag Thursday, after the league rejected all three of the NHLPA's proposals submitted in response to the league's Tuesday offer. The two sides are disputing the union's willingness to approach a 50/50 revenue split.

"We are disappointed that the NHL has canceled more games as a result of the owners' lockout," said former player Mathieu Schneider, now the NHLPA special assistant to the executive director. "The players made another major move in the negotiations this week in an effort to end the lockout, by presenting the owners with a proposal that gets to a 50-50 split of revenues.

"In return, we expect that owners will honor the current contracts they have already signed, which everyone knows is fair."

There are no additional talks scheduled, and as of Friday afternoon, the two sides had not been in touch to plan their next meeting.

Information from ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun and The Associated Press was used in this report.

Katie Strang covers the NHL for ESPN.com. She is a graduate of Michigan State University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
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