NHL lockout lingers on

Hurricanes’ home opener would have been Friday

calexander@newsobserver.comOctober 26, 2012 

Had things been different, the Carolina Hurricanes would be playing the home opener of the 2012-2013 season Friday night at PNC Arena.

The New York Rangers would be in town. Much would be said and written about the game, about three Staal brothers – Eric and Jordan Staal of the Canes, Marc Staal of the Rangers – being on the ice together, and Alexander Semin making his home debut for Carolina.

Instead, it will be another just another day in the NHL lockout. No games have been played this season and no one can say when – or if – they will be.

Even President Obama has entered the fray. Appearing Wednesday on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” the president was asked via a viewer email about the NHL’s labor impasse.

Obama’s response: “Every time this happens, I just want to remind the owners and the players: you guys make money because you’ve got a whole bunch of fans out there who are working really hard. They buy tickets. They’re watching on TV.

“Y’all should be able to figure this out. Get this done.”

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said he wanted it done by Thursday, which he said was the deadline for having a new collective bargaining agreement approved and getting in a full 82-game season. Bettman said that would allow enough time for training camps, the regular season and the Stanley Cup playoffs to be completed by the end of June.

But no labor talks have been held this week. The NHL Players Association requested a meeting but was rebuffed by the league, which said the union was not interested in discussing the CBA proposal – a 50-50 split of hockey revenue with a “make-whole” provision on existing contracts – made by the league last week.

ESPN.com reported Thursday that NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league planned to withdraw the proposal Friday.

NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr, in a statement, dismissed Thursday as an “artificial deadline” set by Bettman and the league.

“The players made multiple core-economic proposals (last) Thursday that were a significant move in the owners’ direction,” Fehr said in the statement. “We are and continue to be ready to meet to discuss how to resolve our remaining differences, with no preconditions. For whatever reason, the owners are not.

“At the same time they are refusing to meet, they are winding the clock down to yet another artificial deadline they created.”

The NHL has canceled 135 regular-season games through Nov. 1. It’s expected another chunk of canceled games soon will be added, with an announcement possibly coming Friday.

Can an 82-game season still be saved? Several NHL observers, on both sides, say there still is wiggle room but that something must be done in the next week.

Note: Sherry Muller, the sister of Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller, died Wednesday in Kingston, Ont. She was 49.

Funeral services are planned for Friday in Kingston.

Alexander: 919-829-8945

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