In an expected move, the National Hockey League officially cancelled all preseason games on Thursday afternoon. The official cancellation of the preseason comes a day before the NHL and NHLPA are scheduled to resume talks on Friday for the first time since September 12th.
The meetings are scheduled to begin on Friday and possibly run through Sunday but the meetings will center around non-economic issues, not the type of issues that will break this stalemate. The issues to be discussed between the two sides include pensions, benefits, travel, medical care, among others.
The hope for those looking to see the regular season start on time is for the non-economic meetings to jumpstart talks between the two sides about the core economic issues. Some will look at the sides talking again as a positive sign but getting agreements on pensions, benefits, ect, doesn’t address the main issue at hand, hockey related revenue.
Indications in league circles is that a new CBA would have to be agreed upon by October 4th or October 5th at the latest to avoid regular season games not getting cancelled. The regular season begins October 11th. With the two sides so far apart on the core economic issues, it’s hard to imagine any scenario where movement is made within the next seven to ten days to have the regular season starting on time or by mid October. The issues at hand isn’t just hockey related revenue. The two sides see different worlds on key issues like contract length, entry level contracts, free agency and more.
One belief from league insiders is that NHL owners feel there won’t be much urgency from players side to come off their stance some until at least early November as the players are receiving escrow payments ($8.5% of 2011-2012 salary) in October, in addition to almost now 100 players playing in Europe and borderline NHL players and young players playing in the American Hockey League. A lot of players are going to be getting paid one way or another and let’s not forget injured players like Marian Gaborik ($7.5 million salary) are getting paid during the lockout because they are injured and some players already received massive bonuses this summer. Just to name a few, Shea Weber ($13 million), Zach Parise ($10 million), Ryan Suter ($10 million), Tyler Myers ($10 million), Brad Richards ($8 million).