So much for the New Year’s Eve celebration taking place at the Xcel Energy Center when our beloved Minnesota Wild would have hosted the young and upstart Edmonton Oilers. The NHL announced Thursday that they have cancelled more regular season games, this time wiping all scheduled games off the slate through January 14.
Prior to this announcement, games had been axed up until December 30, possibly setting the stage for a huge party on the 31st. But that would only have worked if the NHL and NHLPA actually sat down and tried to negotiate a new CBA.
The two sides haven’t met since December 13 and with no immediate plans to get together and the holidays looming, the entire regular season is in serious jeopardy.
We’ve heard the NHLPA is ready to resume negotiations. The owners have yet to respond other than filing a lawsuit against the player’s asking a court to rule the lockout legal. This is what it’s come down to; an ugly lockout that is headed to the courtroom, leaving the NHL ice empty and dark.
With this latest round of cuts the total number of games lost now stands at 625 which is just over half of the season. Gary Bettman has said anything less than a 48-game season isn’t worth it in his eyes, further putting pressure on the mounting situation.
The last lockout that was settled and salvaged a shortened season was in 1993-94 when the league went with a 48-game season. Interestingly enough the CBA was agreed upon on January 11 with the season starting January 20.
The cancellation of more games comes one day after NHL deputy commissioner, Bill Daly went on Hockey Night in Canada Radio and admitted that he still feels there will be a season this year.
The league was quick to cancel more games as they’ve typically waited closer to the end of the month before proceeding in cancelling games into the next month. But with the holidays right around the corner the decision likely had to be made sooner rather than later.
Unless of course this is the league’s way of pressuring the players just a little bit more, proving that the rest of the season will be wiped off the map unless they’re willing to concede more at the bargaining tables.
Either way, the fear of not having hockey for a full year continues to haunt hockey fans and now it’s mid-January that holds our precious hope in hand.