Not airing tonight: NHL opener

Not airing tonight: NHL opener
October 11, 2012, 3:00 pm
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The home ice of the Detroit Red Wings is shown empty at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2004.

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

This was supposed to be the night the NHL toasted its own success.

The night NBC Sports Network kicked off its second year of NHL coverage with a doubleheader featuring the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers followed by the St. Louis Blues taking on the Colorado Avalanche.

Instead, nothing.

The Capitals, by the way, were to open their regular season Friday night at Verizon Center.

Again, nothing.

Instead of opening the regular season, Thursday marks Day 25 of the NHL lockout and the only solace hockey fans across the world can take is the fact that Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr are willing to sit in the same room.

The NHL commissioner and the NHLPA executive director are conducting negotiations for a second straight day in New York and although they remain far apart on how the league should share $3.3 billion in annual revenue, representatives from both sides say they are making progress.

Last week the NHL canceled regular season games through Oct. 24 and barring an agreement, games through the first week of November are expected to be canceled next week.

“I think we're making progress in a number of the areas that were discussed, which include health and safety, drug testing issues, medical care,” NHLPA counsel Steve Fehr said. “They were good discussions. It's a shame that they are going on in the midst of a lockout when we could be doing it while we're playing, or we could've been doing it a month ago or two months ago.”

While negotiations this week have focused on secondary issues, the hope from both sides is that talks lead into the core economic issues and new proposals.

“We’re trying to think of ideas to move the process forward,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said. “Our message to the players’ association was we’re encouraging them to make a proposal. We hear, we understand that they have been working on some concepts, some ideas. We've suggested to them to just make the proposal.”

Although there have been suggestions the players would fight a salary cap if talks do not pick up steam, Daly suggested that could be a deal breaker that, quite possibly, kills the season.

“If that is the direction they choose to go in, that's up to them,” Daly said. “I don’t make the decisions for them. They’ve suggested they want to get the players back on the ice soon. I can pretty much assure you if they make that proposal, it won't get the players back on the ice soon.”