NHL cancels November schedule

Updated:

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman speaks to media following the announcement that the New York Islanders will move to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. (Reuters)
PITTSBURGH —

The Penguins are off until December.

NHL regular-season games were cancelled through Nov. 30, though the league did not wipe out its lucrative New Year’s Day Winter Classic with its latest round of cuts Friday.

The Penguins will have 23 games purged, including 11 at Consol Energy Center. Nine games in October were cancelled as part of two previous rounds of cuts by the NHL.

The NHL had only cancelled games in two-week increments before Friday, but this development news was not unexpected as an owners’ lockout of players hit Day 41.

“It doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of urgency on their side right now to get a deal, so maybe we haven’t gotten to the 11th hour yet, I guess,” Penguins union rep Craig Adams said Thursday after a workout that included five teammates at Southpointe.

No players were at Southpointe for organized training sessions Friday.

Veterans such as Adams and Matt Cooke said Thursday they will start considering options for signing temporary contracts with professional teams throughout Europe.

Evgeni Malkin, the reigning MVP, was the first Penguins player to sign a deal with a European club. Teammates Dustin Jeffrey and Deryk Engelland have followed his lead.

Sidney Crosby, who has joined about 25 other NHL players for a week of training in Plano, Texas, said Oct. 15 that he would “have to seriously look at” his European options if the entire November schedule was whacked.

“It would force me to think about it much differently,” he said. “If they say they’re going to end talks for a while I’m going to have to think about things.

“I’ll probably talk to Pat (Brisson, Crosby’s agent) and take a look at what works.”

The NHL had set a deadline of Thursday to reach a new labor agreement with its Players’ Association, but no negotiations have taken place since Oct. 18 and no bargaining sessions are scheduled.

The league no longer views a full, 82-game season as possible. In its latest offer to the union, presented Oct. 16, the NHL said an 82-game season must begin by Nov. 1. Training camps were to open Friday in that scenario, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said.

That NHL proposal, which called for an immediate 50/50 split of revenue – a record $3.3 billion last season – is no longer on the table because it was based upon a full scheduled, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said.

Most recent proposals by the NHL and union have called for a 50/50 split of revenue, but owners want to hit ratio immediately and players prefer a gradual move toward it. Players received 57 percent of revenue for each of the seven years of the previous labor agreement.

Owners contend the cost of running hockey is too high. Forbes Magazine reported recently that 18 NHL clubs, including the Penguins, lost money last season.

Other issues dividing the NHL and union include the manner for which guaranteed contracts will be paid in full and structural issues such as maximum veteran contracts and disciplinary methods.

The Classic, scheduled for Jan. 1 at Michigan Stadium between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs, is considered a big chip for the NHL and its union. It involves a Canadian club for the first time and is the official start to broadcast network (NBC) coverage of NHL games.

A clause in the NHL’s contract with the University of Michigan would limit the league’s cost – to only $100,000 of a $3 million stadium rental fee. The NHL can cancel the Classic on Jan. 1, the New York Times reported in August.

The league has not considered cancelling the Classic before Nov. 15.

This article was written by Channel 11's news exchange partners at TribLIVE.