PITTSBURGH (93-7 THE FAN/AP) — Given happier circumstances, the Penguins’ now abbreviated 2012-13 season would begin at home Oct. 25 against the New York Rangers. However, the NHL and NHLPA don’t appear to be operating under those right now.
The NHL has announced the cancellation of 82 total regular season games through Oct. 24. Now that the league and the union, who disagree on terms of a new collective bargaining agreement, have effectively folded their own arms, further cancellations will likely happen soon.
Given Thursday’s news, the Penguins were docked six games in all, starting with their regularly-scheduled season opener against the New York Islanders at CONSOL Energy Center next Friday night.
Penguins forward and union representative Craig Adams feels sorry for all the people affected by the subtraction of these games, and not just the players.
“Nobody likes it. We’re not getting paid. Ticket-takers aren’t getting paid. Popcorn guys aren’t getting paid,” he told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Shelly Anderson. “I know it’s not the same thing, and I’m not going to pretend like it’s the same thing. But our responsibility is to negotiate the best deal we can for the players.
“Unfortunately, there’s a lot of people who get hurt by a lockout. We didn’t choose to have a lockout. We didn’t go on strike. We said we would keep playing under the old agreement until we got a deal done. So there’s a lot of collateral damage, if you will, and it’s terrible. But our responsibility is to get the best deal we can for the players.”
You might remember Adams also spoke on this matter with 93.7 The Fan’s Jim Colony earlier this week.
“It’s discouraging,” he told Colony on The Fan Morning Show Tuesday. “It doesn’t seem like [the Board of Governors] is in a big hurry to negotiate. I’m not sure when they’ll decide to get motivated, but it doesn’t seem like they are right now.”
The two sides have haggled over the definition of hockey-related revenue, of which the league and team owners want an increased share. When the players did not concede, a Sept. 15 work stoppage was declared by the league.
According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Rob Rossi, another major sticking point, at least with most of the Penguins, is that they want the NHL to honor their contracts as they were constructed prior to the lockout.
“The decision to cancel the first two weeks of the NHL season is the unilateral choice of the NHL owners,” NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr said in a statement. “If the owners truly cared about the game and the fans, they would lift the lockout and allow the season to begin on time while negotiations continue.
“A lockout should be the last resort in bargaining, not the strategy of first resort,” the statement continues. “For nearly 20 years, the owners have elected to lock out the players in an effort to secure massive concessions. Nevertheless, the players remain committed to playing hockey while the parties work to reach a deal that is fair for both sides. We hope we will soon have a willing negotiating partner.”
As Adams told Colony, Fehr, though offering financial and legal advice, has actually let the players set the tone for the NHLPA side of the negotiations.
“We were extremely disappointed to have to make today’s announcement,” NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly countered in a statement of his own Thursday. “The game deserves better, the fans deserve better, and the people who derive income from their connection to the NHL deserve better.
“We remain committed to doing everything in our power to forge an agreement that is fair to the players, fair to the teams, and good for our fans. This is not about ‘winning’ or ‘losing’ a negotiation. This is about finding a solution that preserves the long-term health and stability of the league and the game. We are committed to getting this done.”
Adams says the relationship between he, his teammates, and Penguins management is not contentious, despite the ongoing labor dispute.
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