The deadline for a full, 82-game NHL season, as put in place by the league last Tuesday, Oct. 17, has arrived.
Cue the crickets.
There are no talks scheduled for Thursday, or in the immediate future, between the NHL and its players association as the labor dispute drags on. Just as the lockout arrived on Sept. 16 with no fanfare, the latest deadline appears as if it will come and go with no formal announcement.
REWIND: Bettman says full season 'not a reality'
Unless there is a miraculous, last minute deal, games will have to be cancelled permanently and players paychecks will be gone forever. That could come as soon as tomorrow. Also on the chopping block will be the annual Winter Classic, which has become the leagues signature event, and the All-Star Game, which is scheduled to take place in January in Columbus.
Although the league would hate to lose the Winter Classic, which is still on the calendar for Jan. 1 between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium, its been thought that the union could use that date as leverage in negotiations. However, the tedious planning it takes to put on the event, both in terms of logistics of setting up the rink and partnering with HBO for the successful 247 mini-series that typically begins shooting in early December, means time is short.
Commissioner Gary Bettman, appearing at a press conference announcing the New York Islanders move to Brooklyn in 2014, told the Associated Press on Wednesday that it looks like a full-82 game schedule "is not going to be a reality.
The league hoped its proposal last Tuesday, which featured a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenue along with various contractual restrictions, would lead to training camp opening on Oct. 26 and the season beginning on Nov. 2. The NHLPA replied two days later with three proposals of its own, offering a gradual reduction of revenue to 50-50, but none of those offers were deemed acceptable by the league.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on Wednesday night, and offered up his opinion on the labor dispute when asked by a member of the audience if he could help push the process along.
Every time this happens, I just want to remind the owners and the players, you guys make money because youve got a whole bunch of fans out there who are working really hard, said the President. They buy tickets. Theyre watching on TV.
Yall should be able to figure this out. Get it done.
Thats something every hockey fan, regardless of political affiliation, can agree upon.