NHL cancels start of regular season, wiping out Kings and Ducks home games

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The National Hockey League cancelled the first two weeks of its regular season due to a contract squabble with players.

The games were scheduled to start October 11 but with no contract agreement, the season is on ice for now.

The Anaheim Ducks will miss their first five games on home ice at the Honda Center.

The Los Angeles Kings will miss four at Staples Center, including their home opener when the Kings were planning to unveil the banner for the Stanley Cup they won last season.

Missing hockey games is a hit to revenues at the two arenas.

Five Ducks games are cancelled so far and the Honda Center has just three events scheduled in October.

But Stanford Economics Professor Roger Noll said in most stadiums, it’s not that big a hit.

“It’s not as important a business as a branch of Macy’s in a big shopping center," said Noll. "A typical Macy’s takes in a lot more money than any hockey team. “

At Staples Center, the missing Kings games leave twelve events on the October calendar, including Madonna and Carrie Underwood concerts, and L.A. Lakers and Clippers pre-season games.

Noll adds that cancelled games are hardly a slap-shot to the wider Southern California economy.

He said because hockey fans are mostly local, they do not travel very far to attend games in L.A. or Anaheim.

"If the hockey team stops playing what happens is the people who attend hockey games who live in that metropolitan area tend to maintain their spending on entertainment and recreation, but they just switch it to other things," said Noll.

So while bars or restaurants right near Staples Center or the Pond struggle through a lockout, restaurants, watering holes and movie theaters further away score some of their business.

The NHL announced Thursday that 82 games between opening night next week and Oct. 24 have been canceled because of the ongoing fight with the players' association that had already forced the league to eliminate the preseason schedule.

It was just seven years ago that the NHL absorbed its biggest blemish by canceling the entire 2004-05 season in its ultimately successful bid to gain a salary cap.

Now the league is fighting to gain even more financial control of the sport.

It isn't clear if the cancelled regular season games will be made up, allowing for a complete 82-game regular season, if a deal can be struck soon with the locked-out players.

Since the NHL is unable to work out how to split up $3 billion in hockey-related revenues with the players' association, the league canceled all four opening-night games next Thursday and 78 more over the following two weeks.

With contributions from AP and Ed Joyce

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