It was not going to be a sneak peek.
Nashville Predators fans lost an early opportunity to get an extended look at their team when the National Hockey League announced Thursday that all games through Oct. 24 were canceled. The move eliminated a total of 82 games, including seven that involved the Predators.
In a brief release, the league said the decision “was necessary because of the absence of a Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NHL Players' Association and the NHL.”
Nashville was scheduled to play four of its first five games at home, beginning Oct. 13 against St. Louis. The first full week of the season included three more contests at Bridgestone Arena on Oct. 16, 18 and 20.
Each of those contests as well as the Oct. 12 season-opener at Detroit and two others are now gone.
The first games of the season were scheduled for Oct. 11.
“The decision to cancel the first two weeks of the NHL season is the unilateral choice of the NHL owners," NHLPA executive director Don Fehr said in a statement. "If the owners truly cared about the game and the fans, they would lift the lockout and allow the season to begin on time while negotiations continue. A lockout should be the last resort in bargaining, not the strategy of first resort. For nearly 20 years, the owners have elected to lock-out the players in an effort to secure massive concessions. Nevertheless, the players remain committed to playing hockey while the parties work to reach a deal that is fair for both sides. We hope we will soon have a willing negotiating partner.”
NHL owners locked out players on Sept. 15, when the last CBA expired. Recent negotiations have yielded little progress and have created uncertainty about when — or if — the 2012-13 season might commence. The last time NHL owners locked out the players, the entire 2004-05 season was lost.
"We were extremely disappointed to have to make today’s announcement," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in a release. "The game deserves better, the fans deserve better and the people who derive income from their connection to the NHL deserve better.
"We remain committed to doing everything in our power to forge an agreement that is fair to the players, fair to the teams and good for our fans.
“This is not about ‘winning’ or ‘losing’ a negotiation. This is about finding a solution that preserves the long-term health and stability of the League and the game.
“We are committed to getting this done.”