The axe has fallen: the first five games of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ season have been canceled.
The NHL announced on Thursday that the schedule for all games through October 24, roughly the first two weeks of the season, was canceled. That affects 82 games across the league.
The Blue Jackets were set to begin the season on the road against the Chicago Blackhawks on October 13 and continue the road trip with games against the Minnesota Wild and Toronto Maple Leafs. Their home opener was to have been against the Vancouver Canucks on October 19, and the Detroit Red Wings were set to hit the ice at Nationwide Arena on October 23.
Almost immediately, Blue Jackets players voiced their reaction.
“We’re on [Gary] Bettman time,” said defenseman Adrian Aucoin, who went through the loss of the 2004-2005 season. “Guys almost counted on it going down this way. It’s them canceling the games. It’s pretty pathetic, really. It’s them locking us out. It feels like this has been the strategy from Day 1.”
Alternate captain R.J. Umberger added “I’m definitely upset. It’s time to play hockey. I’m angry that this doesn’t get done. It’s like the NHL isn’t willing to negotiate or compromise in any way to help get a deal done. That’s where the frustration comes in for me.”
It is thought that the use of the word “schedule” in the NHL’s statement could indicate that the games could be rescheduled to a later date, allowing for an 82-game schedule to still be played. But with no movement on either side of the table, more cancellations resulting in lost games would be a more likely scenario.