The NHL is teetering on its own fiscal cliff and on Monday it canceled all regular season games through Dec. 30.
So why not just tear the entire month of December off the NHL calendar? Maybe it has something to do with Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby scheduled to face off against each other in Pittsburgh on New Year’s Eve night.
Well, we can dream, can’t we?
Monday’s cancellations bring the total number of regular season games wiped out to 526, plus the 2013 Winter Classic and the NHL All-Star Game.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is that representatives of the players and owners are trying to re-schedule negotiations.
“Trying to set up something for this week, but nothing finalized yet,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told NHL.com.
The two sides have not met since Thursday night, when three days of negotiations ended with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman angrily accusing NHL union chief Don Fehr of not wanting to make a deal to end the lockout, now in its 85th day.
The owners and players said they made significant progress without Bettman and Fehr involved in the talks, but when Fehr tried making a counter-proposal to the owners on Thursday night, it was flatly rejected and Bettman said the league’s offer was now of the table.
Today’s cancellations could be the final warning shot before the NHL wipes out the entire 2012-13 season. Bettman has said he would not approve a season with fewer than 48 games, the same number of games the league played during the 1994-95 season, which began on Jan. 20 following a Jan. 11 settlement.
It appears the two sides are close enough to make a deal and the players are simply hoping the owners will sweeten their most recent offer, a strategy that fell on deaf ears on Thursday.
Capitals veteran Jason Chimera said it would be “absurd” if the two sides did not salvage an abbreviated season, considering how far they’ve come in negotiations.
One of the biggest – and most surprising – sticking points has been the NHL’s insistence on five-year limits on player contracts. The players say it’s not their responsibility to put a cap on frivolous owner spending, while Daly called the five-year limit a hill the NHL is “willing to die on.”