The NHL announced another wave of cancelations on Thursday, and a deadline to save any kind of shortened season may now be in view.
All games through Jan. 14 are officially off of the calendar, bringing the total number of canceled games to 625, or 50.8 percent of the season. There’s a strong possibility that if there is no new collective bargaining agreement over the next two-to-three weeks, the next announcement will be that the entire 2012-13 season is kaput.
In 1994-95, a 48-game season began on Jan. 20, just nine days after the NHL and players’ association agreed on a deal. In his most recent press conference on Dec. 7, commissioner Gary Bettman said that he couldn’t imagine playing a season shorter than that one.
He added, “the fact of the matter is, we’ll get to a point, at that point we’ll conclude we can’t have a season with integrity, and then we’ll have to make a tough decision,” Bettman said. “I am certainly hoping that we don’t get to that place. But when we do, we’ll be there.”
If they do reach an agreement, the schedule would be re-written from scratch and would likely feature only games within the conference.
On Wednesday, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly gave fans a slight ray of hope when he was asked by Hockey Night in Canada radio’s Elliotte Freidman to give a “yes or no” answer to the question of, “Will there be a season?” Daly replied, “yes.”
Union head Donald Fehr, speaking at an NHLPA charity game in Toronto, said, “I certainly hope he’s right.”
There are no meetings currently scheduled between the two sides.