VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – The NHL announced it was locking out its players on September 15, after talks failed to provide a new CBA. The ongoing labour stoppage has already cancelled over half of the regular-season schedule.
In total, 625 games have already been cancelled, which makes up 50.8% of the schedule. All games through January 14 have been called off.
The cancellations began on October 4, as the league called off all games from October 11-24.
On October 16, the NHL tabled a proposal to the NHLPA which included a 50-50 split of hockey related revenue. The offer seemed to be the starting point for some serious negotiations, as the league indicated a deal would need to be reached within nine days in order to start a full season on November 2.
The leagues offer was countered by the union with three separate proposals on October 18, but the league quickly rejected all three, and cancelled all games through November 1 the next day.
Just a week later, on October 26, the NHL wiped out more of the schedule. All games in November were nixed, meaning a full 82-game season was no longer possible.
The NHL was forced to call off it’s marquee event early in November. The Winter Classic, which was to be played on New Years Day between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs had to be cancelled because of a deadline the league had with Michigan Stadium.
The two sides continued negotiating off-and-on throughout the month, but on November 23 another 96 games were cancelled as the league wiped the schedule through December 15. The league also called off the annual all-star game, which was to be played in Columbus, Ohio in late January.
With the labour stoppage into its 72nd day, the two sides agreed to allow US Federal Mediators to join the discussions on November 26. They met with the mediators for two days but were too entrenched to make any progress.
There appeared to be a light at the end of the tunnel in early December as a group of six owners and 18 players met without union head Donald Fehr or NHL commissioner Gary Bettman present.
The groups held discussions between December 4-6 and even gave fans some optimism. After the first day of meetings, union special counsel Steve Fehr and deputy commissioner Bill Daly stood side-by-side and addressed the media for the first time throughout the process.
While Fehr and Daly did not indicate a deal was imminent, they both confirmed that the talks had been positive and suggested an agreement could be reached soon.
The owners rejected an offer from the NHLPA on December 6, signalling an end to the marathon talks, and the hope of a season starting soon. Four days later, another 104 games were cancelled.
With little progress being made in the bargaining room, the two sides began to prepare for a possible battle in the courtroom.
Reports began to surface in mid-December that the union was preparing to vote on whether or not to allow the executive board to file a disclaimer of interest, which would give them the power to decertify. The NHL responded by filing a lawsuit in federal court in New York on December 14. The league did so in hopes of having the legality of the lockout upheld.
After the owners called off all games through January 14, the NHLPA’s vote wrapped up on December 21, and the results were overwhelmingly in favour of allowing the disclaimer of interest to be filed. The vote was 708-22.
The two sides have been in contact over the past few days but are yet to schedule any further meetings.