The NHL announced Friday that the All-Star game for 2013 will not take place. (Sean Kilpatrick / Camadian…)
Leaders of the NHL and the NHL Players' Assn. traded barbs instead of labor proposals Friday as the league extended its cancellation of regular-season games through Dec. 14 for a total of 422, or 34.3% of the schedule. It also canceled the All-Star game, scheduled for Jan. 27 at Columbus, Ohio.
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said in an interview on Toronto radio station The Fan 590 that he has doubted the NHLPA's willingness to make a deal. "I would hope the players want to play and want to have a season but I'm not so sure at the end of the day that unless it's on certain terms that union leadership necessarily shares that goal," he said.
Daly also took an ominous view of a possible vote by players to decertify their union, as NFL and NBA players did in recent labor disputes. "I think it's a time-consuming process that would likely lead to the end of the season," he said.
Steve Fehr, the NHLPA's special counsel, declined to say if the decertification process has begun but said all options are being considered. He said the union wants to complete a deal but has questioned the NHL's intentions. "We have our doubts, how's that?" he said in a separate interview on the same station.
Fehr also said the league has moved toward players. "But on the things that matter — dollars, free-agency rights, salary arbitration rights, some of the other player contracting rights they're trying to take a meat ax to — there was not movement," he said. "If it was Thanksgiving dinner, they gave us a relish tray but no turkey."
The sides have agreed to evenly split hockey-related revenues but differ over transitional payments to players who will lose a chunk of their salaries to escrow as they move from a 57% share of hockey-related revenues under the previous collective bargaining agreement to 50%.
NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr called the new cancellations disappointing because the economic gap has shrunk to $182 million in transitional payments. "On Wednesday, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said that the league is losing $18 [million]-$20 million per day during the lockout, therefore two more weeks of canceled games far exceeds the current economic gap," he said.