Any level of optimism still held by those hoping for a last second deal before the beginning of the regular season in the NHL Lockout saga is about to be dashed. According to reports, games will be canceled starting tomorrow. The first regular season games to be canceled will start opening night, October 11th. The preseason was canceled in two chunks of about two weeks each.
No one misses the preseason, as evidence by the first two meaningless months of basketball canceled by the NBA last year, but people do miss real games. For the NHL, with the close races and parity within the league, every game becomes crucial in the minds of fans. Hockey fans are also a more polarized group not satisfied by a fall full of the NFL, NCAA football, the NBA and MLB Playoffs.
While the NHL Owners and the NHL Players met Tuesday, they appear no closer to a deal and are not scheduled to formally negotiate again. According to Adrian Dater of the Denver Post, the sides are separated only marginally on either side of a 50 percent revenue split, with the players willing to meet the even split number. The owners have not agreed to move towards the center. The debate continues to be bogged down by collusion claims on the side of the union and the threat of replacement players by some in ownership.
Four games are currently set to take place Thursday, October 11. CBC is set to broadcast the Ottawa Senators at the Montreal Canadiens and the Vancouver Canucks at the Calgary Flames in Canada. In the United States, NBC Sports is supposed to air the Boston Bruins at the Philadelphia Flyers and the St. Louis Blues at the Colorado Avalanche. 20 games could be canceled in the first weekend alone.