The countdown to Christmas officially is on, and the number of National Hockey League games canceled continues to add up.
Black Friday took on a different meaning for hockey fans this year as the National Hockey League announced that another two weeks of contests, as well as the 2013 All-Star Game, have been lost to the ongoing labor dispute between owners and players.
The latest announcement wiped out the games through Dec. 14. Three previous announcements had eliminated all games through the end of November. Also off the schedule now is the All-Star Game and all activities connected to that event, which was scheduled for Jan. 26-27 in Columbus, Ohio.
“The reality of losing more regular-season games as well as the 2013 NHL All-Star Weekend in Columbus is extremely disappointing,” NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement released by the league. “We feel badly for NHL fans and particularly those in Columbus, and we intend to work closely with the Blue Jackets organization to return the NHL All-Star events to Columbus and their fans as quickly as possible.”
Since owners locked out players following the Sept. 15 expiration of the previous collective bargaining agreement, 422 regular-season games (34.3 percent of the season) have been lost, including the Winter Classic, the outdoor game scheduled this season for Jan. 1 at Ann Arbor, Mich.
The sides met several times during the week but no substantial progress toward a new CBA was reported.
“On Wednesday, the players presented a comprehensive proposal, once again moving in the owners’ direction in order to get the game back on the ice," NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr said in a statement. "The gap that remains on the core economic issues is $182 million.
"On Wednesday, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said that the league is losing $18-20 million per day during the lockout, therefore two more weeks of cancelled games far exceeds the current economic gap. It makes the NHL’s announcement of further game cancellations, including the 2013 All-Star Weekend, all the more unnecessary, and disappointing for all hockey fans — especially those in Columbus.
"The players remain ready to negotiate but we require a willing negotiating partner.”