The National Hockey League, unable to draft a new collective bargaining agreement, has cancelled all the 2012 games of its 2012–2013 season.
According to NHL.com, the league has cancelled 526 games scheduled to be played between Oct. 11 and Dec. 30—42.8 percent of the season.
The league has been embroiled in a labor dispute with the players’ union, the NHL Players Association, since July 13, trying to draft a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The old CBA expired on Sept. 16 and the two sides have been unable to come to terms on a new one.
The team owners, under commissioner Gary Bettman, wanted to limit the amount of total league revenue paid out in players’ salaries and wanted to change some of the contract and free agency rules in the agreement.
The NHLPA, led by executive director Donald Fehr, sought a salary cap not based on team revenue, so smaller teams would have the same salary cap as richer teams based in larger metropolitan areas, and introduced a revised revenue-sharing system to help teams in smaller markets.
The NHL has been canceling the season in increments, hoping to avoid losing the complete season.
The 1994–1995 season was cut in half by a labor dispute which was resolved in the last half of January. The 2004–2005 season was completely canceled due to labor disputes, a move which may have permanently damaged professional hockey in North America.
In today’s competitive sports entertainment environment, fans can always find another sport to watch, and TV networks can always find more content to broadcast. Hockey’s ratings are already dangerously low; the next stop might be Internet-only broadcasts, which will further hurt league revenue.
The NHL may be doing itself more irreparable harm if the players’ union and the league refuse to work out a deal.2012 marks the third NHL season marred and shortened by a lockout since Bettman took over as commissioner in 1993. For NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr, this is his first NHL labor dispute; in his previous position as head of the Major League Players Association, he led the players in a lockout in 1990 and a strike in 1994–1995.
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