NHL cancels games through Jan. 14

Rumored deadline for new CBA rapidly approaching

calexander@newsobserver.comDecember 21, 2012 

The National Hockey League announced Thursday it had canceled all regular-season games through Jan. 14.

It did not announce whether Jan. 14 is the drop-dead date for canceling the 2012-2013 season.

Many believe it could be. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly in a radio interview Wednesday said such a decision likely would be made in mid-January if no new collective bargaining agreement was in place.

The NHL has now called off the 625 regular-season games between Oct. 11 and Jan. 14, or 50.8 percent of the season. Also canceled is the 2013 Winter Classic, a game between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs that was set for New Year’s Day.

NHL Players Association executive director Donald Fehr, appearing Thursday on TSN 1050 radio in Toronto, said no CBA negotiating meetings were planned but that he would be willing to meet on Christmas Day, if necessary. He called the CBA talks “a tough negotiation.”

The NHLPA has been conducting a vote of the players on authorizing the union’s executive board to file a “disclaimer of interest” that would effectively dissolve the union. The results of the vote should be known Friday.

If given the authorization, the board would have until Jan. 2 to act on the disclaimer, which if filed would allow players to file anti-trust litigation against the league.

Fehr was asked on the radio show why the players have not voted on any CBA proposals from the league. He said the league had only forwarded “pieces” of proposals and never made an offer that was “comprehensive and good enough” to submit to a vote.

Fehr noted the players are frustrated by the stalemated talks and by the NHL lockout that began Sept. 16, but he said what’s on the table now is “not good enough to resume the season.”

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has said a 48-game schedule, at a minimum, must be played to maintain the integrity of the season. To squeeze in that schedule, plus the Stanley Cup playoffs, before the end of June would require that the regular season begin no later than mid-January.

Bettman canceled the 2004-2005 season in February 2005 when the league and union could not agree on a CBA.

Alexander: 919-829-8945

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