NEW YORK — The NHL has called off all games through Dec. 14, plus the 2013 NHL All-Star Weekend scheduled for Jan. 26-27 in Columbus, Ohio.
The league made the announcement Friday, the 69th day of the NHL’s lockout of its players.
The new cancellations come as little surprise. The two sides had an unproductive negotiating session on Wednesday that produced no movement to break an impasse over splitting more than $3 billion in revenue and also player contracts.
A total of 423 regular-season games, including the New Year’s Day Winter Classic have now been lost. That’s more than 34 percent of the season,
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said losing the 2013 NHL All-Star Weekend in Columbus is “extremely disappointing.”
“We feel badly for NHL fans and particularly those in Columbus, and we intend to work closely with the Blue Jackets organization to return the NHL All-Star events to Columbus and their fans as quickly as possible,” Daly said in a statement Friday.
The Columbus Blue jackets, the club hosting the All-Star game and the skills competition, said fans with tickets to events on that weekend could receive refunds.
Players’ association executive director Donald Fehr said Wednesday that the sides were closer financially than the NHL has claimed. The further cancellations Friday will cause significantly greater losses for the league.
“On Wednesday, the players presented a comprehensive proposal, once again moving in the owners’ direction in order to get the game back on the ice,” Fehr said in a new statement. “The gap that remains on the core economic issues is $182 million. On Wednesday, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said that the league is losing $18-20 million per day during the lockout, therefore two more weeks of cancelled games far exceeds the current economic gap.
“It makes the NHL’s announcement of further game cancellations, including the 2013 All-Star Weekend, all the more unnecessary, and disappointing for all hockey fans — especially those in Columbus. The players remain ready to negotiate but we require a willing negotiating partner.”
Daly said he spoke to union officials on Friday, advising them about the cancellations, but at this point no face-to-face talks are scheduled. The two sides had stayed apart for eight days before reconvening on Monday night and then again on Wednesday when the union presented a comprehensive proposal the NHL requested.
It didn’t take long for the league to reject it.
The union made its offer that was based on a framework the NHL had given, which included a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenue and a $393 million in deferred payments for the players, who earned 57 percent of revenues in the collective bargaining agreement that expired in September. The NHL offered only $211 million to the players in a proposed deal that took into account that a full 82-game schedule would be played this season.
The NHL on Oct. 16 offered a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenue, down from the players’ 57 percent portion of $3.3 billion last season. With guaranteed contracts likely to push the players’ share over the halfway mark at the start of the next deal, management wants that money to come out of future years to bring the overall percentage down to an even split over the length of an agreement.
Players previously had proposed they receive a guaranteed amount of income each year.
Management wants a seven-year deal, which the union says is too long because less than half the current players will be active by the last season.
This is the league’s third lockout since 1994. The first settled on Jan. 11 and the last one led to Bettman announcing the cancellation of the 2004-05 season on Feb. 15, 2005.
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