Following the sudden, explosive breakdown in negotiations between the NHL and NHLPA this past week, the inevitable is about to happen. Reportedly, the league is planning to cancel all games from Dec. 15 to 30. Any hopes for games to start right before Christmas–or even on Dec. 25, something the NHL hasn’t done since Richard Nixon was president but was theorized about during the good times last week–will be dashed as soon as it’s made official, which should come any time now. Bah humbug.
The possibility of getting things underway for a New Year’s Eve season start does still exist, but the theoretical season looks more and more like the lockout-shortened 1994-95 campaign by the day. (By the way, commissioner Gary Bettman has said that’s the final option he will allow.) Plus, the long-ago-canceled Winter Classic means New Year’s Day won’t have much in the way of hockey fanfare.
The news of this latest crop of cancellations has already garnered responses from big names in the hockey community.
Boston Bruins president Cam Neely, shopping with Johnny Bucyk and Bruins staff for toys to donate to kids in area hospitals (a tradition started by Ray Bourque that is usually undertaken by Bruins players), told reporters that all he wants for Christmas is for the puck to drop. He maintains a positive outlook, as does captain Zdeno Chara, who recently returned to the States while his KHL team takes a short break.
Sidney Crosby, who played a large part along with Pittsburgh Penguins part-owner Ron Burkle in last week’s disastrous-ending negotiations, said he has no plans to go to future negotiations, citing a lack of trust. Reportedly, Crosby was basically just used as a PR stunt by the league to make it look like things were going well.
When one of the biggest names in the game is saying he’s done with the negotiation process due to a breakdown in trust with the people in the game’s front office, that’s not exactly a good or very hopeful thing.
The two sides are reportedly set to hit the negotiation table again this week.