With each passing day, a 2012-13 NHL season is becoming more like a dream scenario. The owners and Players' Association last met Tuesday and do not have another negotiating session on tap. Thus, Thursday's news that the league has canceled the the first two weeks of the regular season through Oct. 24 comes as no surprise.
Eighty-two games across the NHL are now wiped out, with neither side showing any signs that they are eager to present a new collective-bargaining proposal. Owners continue to stand pat on their demands to cut the players' share of hockey-related revenue, while players continue stand united, unwilling to cave to the demands. Day by day, more players are bolting to Europe, with more considering that option as the likelihood of a season in North America grows bleaker.
Sixteen of the games belong to the New York-area teams. With renovations to Madison Square Garden again taking place with what figured to be early this season, the New York Rangers were due to begin with eight straight games on the road. Five games are now off the board, with the big ones being the season opener against the Stanley Cup-champion Los Angeles Kings on Oct. 12 and a date with the New Jersey Devils on Oct. 17. There's nothing like starting the year off against the defending champs, and that would've been a good immediate test for this Rangers group. Of course, there's nothing better in these parts than a tilt between the Devils and Rangers, either.
The Devils also had five games scheduled to open the year, one away, followed by three straight at home and one more on the road. The highlights include a battle to open the year (Oct. 12) against the Washington Capitals, whom New Jersey was 3-1 against last year with two wins being decided in the shootout. The Bruins were also on the slate, during the Devils' home opener, which would've been the next day.
The New York Islanders were due to begin the season against the high-flying Pittsburgh Penguins on the road Oct. 12, a difficult challenge but a way to gauge this team's maturity/experience progression from the get-go. A day later, they were supposed to host the Philadelphia Flyers in their home opener.
The "good" news is that NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said that if an agreement was reached relatively soon, the league would "reconfigure schedule in a way that would maximize season consistent with health and safety concerns for the players," as reported by ESPN's Scott Burnside.
But a day like this one is never complete without comments from each side. The NHLPA, in essence, blamed the owners, while the league expressed optimism that a deal would get done, saying it was "extremely disappointed" and that everyone involved deserves "better."