It was inevitable. Sooner or later, the NHL was going to postpone the start of the 2012-13 season.
The league has done it today.
The lockout that cost hockey fans the entire preseason will carry into at least the first two weeks of the regular season. The NHL announced it has wiped all games through Oct. 24 from the schedule after failing to find any common ground with the NHL Players’ Association on a new collective bargaining agreement.
The first puck was supposed to drop next Thursday. Commissioner Gary Bettman and the owners looked at the large gap in proposals and decided they would not come together with the union by then. With more than 100 NHLers scattered around the world playing for other teams, the NHL clubs will also need time to gather their rosters.
The owners’ decision will cost the Buffalo Sabres at least five games, including four at home. They were scheduled to open the season against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Oct. 13 in First Niagara Center. Detroit was set to visit Oct. 16, followed by the New York Rangers on Oct. 19 and New Jersey on Oct. 24. The Sabres were scheduled to visit the New York Islanders on Oct. 20.
The Sabres announced a policy for ticket refunds last month. The information can be found by clicking here.
This is the third time since 1994 that the NHL will not start as scheduled because of a lockout. In 1994-95, the league didn't drop the puck until January for a shortened, 48-game schedule. The entire 2004-05 season was lost to a labor dispute.
UPDATE NO. 2: NHLPA releases statement.
UPDATE NO. 3: NHL releases statement.