NHL cancels All-Star Game

calexander@newsobserver.comNovember 24, 2012 

The National Hockey League canceled another block of games Friday, not that the move had much shock value.

As expected, the NHL canceled all regular-season games through Dec. 14. The 2013 All-Star Game Weekend, which was to be held Jan. 26-27 in Columbus, Ohio, was another casualty.

For those counting, that’s 423 regular-season games that have been axed by the league, including the 2013 Winter Classic on New Year’s Day. That’s more than 34 percent of the 2012-2013 schedule.

The decision was made two days after collective bargaining talks ended in rejection and frustration. The NHL Players Association made a six-page CBA proposal to the league but the offer was dismissed.

The league is seeking a 50-50 split of annual hockey-related revenue, and the NHL has proposed a “make whole” provision to honor existing player contracts through deferred payments.

The league offered to pull $211 million out of its HRR share to fund the deferred compensation. The union, however, proposed Wednesday that the league take $393 million out of the NHL share.

“On Wednesday, the players presented a comprehensive proposal, once again moving in the owners’ direction in order to get the game back on the ice,” NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr said Friday in a statement. “The gap that remains on the core economic issues is $182 million.

“On Wednesday, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said that the league is losing $18-20 million per day during the lockout, therefore two more weeks of cancelled games far exceeds the current economic gap. 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. The players remain ready to negotiate but we require a willing negotiating partner.”

The lockout began with the expiration of the CBA on Sept. 15. The league first canceled all regular-season games from Oct. 11 to Oct. 24, then games through Nov. 1. The next cancellations wiped out all games through the end of November.

“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 Friday 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.”

There is no All-Star game set for 2014 with the Winter Olympics taking place in Sochi, Russia. It’s possible Columbus could host the 2015 All-Star Weekend.

There was no CBA meeting Friday and it’s unclear when then next CBA session will be held.

Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller told the Canadian Press that he favors decertification of the NHLPA. If the union was dissolved, the lockout could be legally challenged and there could be an antitrust lawsuit.

Some players, on the other hand, believe the league and union are that not far apart on a CBA and that decertification will not be necessary.

Despite the canceled games, the NHL likely could play a 60-game season if a CBA was approved in the next 10 days.

Alexander: 919-829-8945

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