Friday, October 26, 2012

A November with nothing to remember

As expected, the National Hockey League announced the cancellation of all its regular-season games through the month of November on Friday afternoon.

"The National Hockey League deeply regrets having to take this action. By presenting a proposal to the NHLPA that contemplated a fair division of revenues and was responsive to Player concerns regarding the value of their contracts, we had hoped to be able to forge a long-term Collective Bargaining Agreement that would have preserved an 82-game Regular Season for our fans. Unfortunately, that did not occur, " said NHL second-in-command Bill Daly.

"We acknowledge and accept that there is joint responsibility in collective bargaining and, though we are profoundly disappointed that a new agreement has not been attained to this point, we remain committed to achieving an agreement that is fair for the Players and the Clubs -- one that will be good for the game and our fans."

The latest unkind cut came exactly one week after the league announced all games from October 25-November 1 would not be played. A total of 326 games (26.5 percent of the season) have been wiped out from an original planned start date of October 11.

That means the Philadelphia Flyers will have their first 22 games of the planned 2012-13 season cast aside. Key matchups that will not be contested are: Sunday, November 4 at Madison Square Garden vs. the Rangers, a home-and-home series with Buffalo on November 16-17 and the semi-traditional day-after-Thanksgiving matinee home game, this year featuring the Winnipeg Jets.

Should an agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement be reached, the first game for the Orange and Black would take place on December 1 at the Florida Panthers.

Of course, NHLPA head Donald Fehr had to chime in, and did so quite verbosely: “The league officially informed us today that they have withdrawn its latest proposal and have cancelled another slate of regular season games. This is deeply disappointing for all hockey fans and everyone who makes their living from hockey, including the players. But it comes as no surprise.

"Last week the owners gave us what amounts to a "take-it-or-leave-it" proposal. We responded with the framework for three proposals on the players’ share, each of which moved significantly, towards their stated desire for a 50-50 split of HRR, with the only condition being that they honour contracts they have already signed. Honouring contracts signed between owners and players is a reasonable request. Unfortunately, after considering them for only 10 minutes they rejected all of our proposals," read Fehr's statement, issued from union HQ in Toronto.

"Since then, we have repeatedly advised the owners that the players are prepared to sit down and negotiate on any day, with no pre-conditions. The owners refused. They apparently are only interested in meeting if we first agree to everything in their last offer, except for perhaps a few minor tweaks and discussion of their 'make whole' provision.

"The message from the owners seems to be: if you don't give us exactly what we want, there is no point in talking. They have shown they are very good at delivering deadlines and demands, but we need a willing partner to negotiate. We hope they return to the table in order to get the players back on the ice soon.”

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