Crunch time has come for the NHL.
The NHL announced today that it had canceled its regular-season schedule from Oct. 11 through Oct. 24. A total of 82 regular-season games were scheduled in that time frame.
The league said that the cancellation was necessary because of an absence of a Collective Bargaining Agreement between the league and the NHL Players Association. The old CBA expired Sept. 15, and the players were locked out.
The NHL already had canceled all scheduled preseason games. A cancellation of regular-season games was expected when meetings between the league and union last weekend were generally unproductive.
The NHL openers were to be played Oct. 11. The Carolina Hurricanes' season opener was set Oct. 13 in Winnipeg.
"Everyone is missing out," Canes captain Eric Staal said Wednesday. "You hope here in the next very short time they get down to it and get serious and get it done."
In 2004, continued haggling over a CBA resulted in the cancellation of the 2004-2005 season. Staal and others still have hope that will not happen again.
"It's starts to get real," Staal said of canceling regular-season games. "There's real money lost for players and more money lost for owners. It's too bad because of where the game has been going and how it's grown.
"You'd like to think these people are smart enough to figure out how to get a deal structured properly for both sides to be OK with it. We're not at that point yet, and it's hopefully sooner than later."
The NHL and NHLPA have been at odds over such contentious issues as how to divide the annual hockey-related revenue. The players received 57 percent in the old CBA and the league has proposed a significant reduction in the players' percentage.