So long for now, Eric and Jordan Staal. Maybe next year, Daniel and Henrik Sedin. And any Sabres fans who were hoping to visit Phoenix or Anaheim next month can put away the sunscreen.
In a highly anticipated move, the league announced today it is taking another significant chunk off its schedule. After chopping two- and one-week segments in its previous cancellations, the NHL went bigger with a whole month getting the ax.
"The National Hockey League deeply regrets having to take this action," Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement. "By presenting a proposal to the NHLPA that contemplated a fair division of revenues and was responsive to player concerns regarding the value of their contracts, we had hoped to be able to forge a long-term Collective Bargaining Agreement that would have preserved an 82-game Regular Season for our fans. Unfortunately, that did not occur.
"We acknowledge and accept that there is joint responsibility in collective bargaining and, though we are profoundly disappointed that a new agreement has not been attained to this point, we remain committed to achieving an agreement that is fair for the players and the clubs -- one that will be good for the game and our fans."
The cancellation means 11 more games for the Sabres have fallen by the wayside. They were scheduled to play five home games (Carolina on Nov. 3, Philadelphia on Nov. 16, Columbus on Nov. 21, Winnipeg on Nov. 27 and Vancouver on Nov. 29) and six road games (Philadelphia on Nov. 6, San Jose on Nov. 8, Phoenix on Nov. 10, Anaheim on Nov. 11, Philadelphia on Nov. 17 and the New York Islanders on Nov. 24).
Combined with the previous cancellations, the Sabres have had 20 games nixed.
"This is deeply disappointing for all hockey fans and everyone who makes their living from hockey, including the players," Donald Fehr, executive director of the NHLPA, said in a statement. "But it comes as no surprise.
"The message from the owners seems to be: if you don't give us exactly what we want, there is no point in talking. They have shown they are very good at delivering deadlines and demands, but we need a willing partner to negotiate. We hope they return to the table in order to get the players back on the ice soon."
While presenting its last proposal, the NHL said it would require seven days for training camp. For games to start Dec. 1, a collective bargaining agreement will need to be reached by Nov. 23.
No talks are planned, and the league withdrew its most recent offer today after the NHL Players' Association expressed little interest in the proposal.
Though the Staal brothers, who were united in Carolina during the offseason, would visit Buffalo if the lockout ends and a shortened season is scheduled, the Western Conference Canucks and the Sedin twins would be a long shot. The 1994-95 season was shortened to 48 games due to a lockout, and all the games were played within the conferences.