One day after the NHL all but completely ignored three new offers from the NHLPA, the league has announced they are cancelling games through November 1st. This second wave of canceled games will bring the total of games removed from the schedule to 135 (Source).
Hope remains that an 82-game season will still pan out but with the NHL back to canceling games and brushing seemingly negotiable deals aside, are larger cancellations lurking in the near future?
Consider this the NHL's second warning shot to the NHLPA. Katie Strang of ESPN New York believes more significant cancellations could come by the end of next week if the two sides are still struggling to make a deal. If we approach the end of October without a new deal, don't expect the NHL to remove a week or two from the schedule. Their next move will be significant, likely removing a month or more from the schedule which would place even the seemingly untouchable Winter Classic in doubt.
It's worth noting that the NHL could have canceled more than just an additional week of games. It's also somewhat surprising, if not relieving, that they canceled such a small slate when you consider how "disappointed" the league was by the NHLPA's recent offers. Clearly, the two sides are closer than either is willing to let on. If they were truly far apart the NHL would have likely canceled a much larger chunk of 2012-13.
Are more games at risk? That's a question that can only be answered with a "wait and see". The two sides are close though you'd never think they were if you only followed their relentless posturing to the media. Still, if one side isn't willing to give a little bit more than you should brace yourself for the worst. The NHL will drop the hammer if they're forced to cancel more games. The sacred Winter Classic could be the next thing to go.
If you're looking for a bright side in all of this, celebrate the fact the target date of November 2nd is still in play. There is still time left. An 82-game season can still take place. Let's hope this is the last time we have to discuss cancellations.
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