You know, there's no reason to get worked up about this stuff anymore -- raise your hand if you actually weren't expecting the NHL to cancel another round of games. Anyone?
The NHL announced today that they were cancelling all games scheduled through December 14th, and as an added bonus they were cancelling the 2013 All Star Game that was going to be scheduled for January 26-27th in Columbus, Ohio. If this doesn't give a new spin to the term "Black Friday," I don't know what does. Of course, it also leaves the door open for tons of Photoshops of Gary Bettman or Bill Daly being portrayed as the Grinch, especially since the league'll probably leave coal in everyone's stocking on or sooner than December 15th.
From the NHL's press release:
The National Hockey League announced today the cancellation of the 2012-13 regular-season schedule through December 14. The NHL also announced the cancellation of the 2013 NHL All-Star Weekend scheduled for Jan. 26-27 in Columbus, Ohio. The cancellations are necessary due to the absence of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NHL Players' Association and the NHL.
A total of 422 regular-season games -- 34.3 percent of the season -- were scheduled for Oct. 11 through Dec. 14.
"The reality of losing more regular-season games as well as the 2013 NHL All-Star Weekend in Columbus is extremely disappointing," said NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly. "We feel badly for NHL fans and particularly those in Columbus, and we intend to work closely with the Blue Jackets organization to return the NHL All-Star events to Columbus and their fans as quickly as possible."
Oh, well at least they'll work with Columbus to return the All Star Game as soon as possible to them. How about working with the NHLPA to return the entire sport to the fans as soon as possible, too?
Honest to God, I've nearly hit the point where I hope that Chris Botta's report is right: just cancel the whole damn thing. Fans are sick of being strung along, the League obviously is in no mood to make large concessions, and the Players Association knows that regardless of whatever they propose, nothing'll get done. Just take the fork out of the turkey and stick it into the season. It's done.
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I'm not so much in Botta's camp of believers, as I am running ahead with placards saying that they're not being nearly pessimistic enough. This season is functionally done, and I've been operating under that assumption for a while now (planning to visit local hockey, farm clubs affiliated with my boys, so forth). I've even (gasp) partaken of all but the most recent of ESPN3's KHL offerings.
If the NHL/PA manage to come to an agreement and salvage a reasonable portion of the schedule, I'll have a pleasant surprise in store. But I'm not about to believe it until I see the signatures on the paper, or, at least, the news stories from the journalists covering it that have seen said signatures and paper.
I'd love to see a fan "walk out" once they do come back. Say the third home game for each club. Either fans don't go to the game at all OR if they can make it leave 2 minutes into the first period. Fans have been getting nothing but a middle finger salute from this league for years. Its overdue we return the favor.