The optimism that existed a few days earlier is gone. So is another week’s worth of games.
The National Hockey League announced Friday that regular-season contests through Nov. 1 have been canceled. That meant another 43 games, including three for the Nashville Predators, were taken off the board a little more than two weeks after the first 82 were dropped.
The decision was made because league owners and the NHL Players Association have been unsuccessful in attempts to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Owners locked out players upon expiration of the last CBA on Sept. 15.
“It stings,” Nashville goalie Chris Mason said. “I know they can reschedule and do all that kind of stuff but once you think about where you should be during the first week of the season, especially in our situation where everybody feels like we have a really good team.
“You see more games get knocked off and just sucks, basically.”
If there is anything positive to be taken from Friday’s announcement it is that the possibility still exists for games to be played as early as Nov. 2.
Tuesday, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman made an offer on behalf of the owners to the NHLPA, which included a revised schedule that consisted of a full slate (82 games) to begin Nov. 2. That created hope that negotiations could proceed quickly and a complete season would be salvaged.
The players responded with three counterproposals Thursday, none of which the owners felt merited discussion and talks broke off quickly.
Bettman has said a deal must be in place by the middle of next week in order for games to begin Nov. 2. No talks are currently scheduled.
At this point, the first eight Predators’ contests have been canceled.
“You expect it, but until you hear they’ve canceled another chunk of games it doesn’t really kick in,” Predators captain Shea Weber said. “… When you hear that games are canceled it’s hard. It’s hard on the fans throughout the game. It’s hard on the people that work within in the game and have no jobs right now. And obviously it’s hard on us.”