Photo by Noah Graham/NHLI via Getty Images
An empty Staples Center on nights scheduled for hockey could be a common occurrence as the NHL lockout continues.
In the wake of the NHL rejecting three different counter-proposals from hockey players, the league announced Friday that it will cancel regular-season games through November 1.
After Thursday's tense negotiations, today's announcement didn't surprise New York Rangers goalie Martin Biron.
"As expected," Biron told the Associated Press in a text message. "We continue to work hard to find an agreement and get back to playing hockey."
If the players union and the league can reach an agreement by October 25, the NHL can still have a full 82-game-per-team schedule. Unfortunately a full season looks unlikely as both sides seem far apart and no new talks are scheduled for the near future.
"We are disappointed that the NHL has canceled more games as a result of the owners' lockout," said Mathieu Schneider, NHLPA special assistant to the executive director.
"The players made another major move in the negotiations this week in an effort to end the lockout, by presenting the owners with a proposal that gets to a 50-50 split of revenues," Schneider said. "In return, we expect that owners will honor the current contracts they have already signed, which everyone knows is fair."
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman who said he was "thoroughly disappointed" by the results of the talks, disagreed that the proposals offered by the NHLPA was an even split in revenue.
"None of the three variations of player share that they gave us even began to approach 50-50, either at all or for some long period of time," Bettman said Thursday. "It's clear we're not speaking the same language."
That's one thing both sides did agree on.
"Today was not a good day," Donald Fehr NHLPA told reporters in Toronto yesterday. "It should have been, but it wasn't."
If the lockout goes on for much longer the hugely popular New Year's Day outdoor game, The Winter Classic, becomes perilously in jeopardy. The unique game has been played in baseball parks like Wrigley Field and Fenway Park has also attracted large crowds in football stadiums.
This year's Winter Classic is scheduled to be held at Michigan Stadium between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings. More than 110,000 hockey fans are expected to attend which would set a new attendance record for an outdoor hockey game.