Two more weeks of the regular-season schedule have been cancelled.
And so, too, has the all-star game that was scheduled for January in Columbus.
The NHL lockout claimed more casualties on Friday, bringing to 422 the number of games wiped out even as the two sides declined to meet and talk of the union decertifying dominates the headlines.
Instead, deputy commissioner Bill Daly and NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr took to the airwaves in Toronto to answer questions about where they are as of Day 70 of the work stoppage.
“I’ll be the first to admit this process has played out not as we would have hoped,” Daly told The Fan 590. “We hate where we are and wish we were in a better place.”
“Of course we want to get a deal done,” Fehr said. “That’s why we’ve been at it, why we’ve been working hard trying to do it. We have our doubts [the league wants to].”
Daly and Fehr had spoken earlier in the day, but no meetings between the groups have been scheduled.
On the heels of players making an offer on Wednesday, Fehr indicated it was unlikely they would have another one any time soon.
“They’ve given the owners concessions that really are fairly valued at $1-billion or more,” Fehr said. “But they’re not prepared to go any further right now.”
As for decertification, neither side was saying much.
A day after Buffalo Sabres netminder Ryan Miller told The Globe and Mail he was a supporter of the move – which would essentially dissolve the union and leave the league open to antitrust lawsuits – Daly said he believed the law was on the NHL’s side.
“I wouldn’t view an antitrust lawsuit in this case to be anything other than unfortunate development,” Daly said, “because I think it’s a time consuming process and would likely lead to the end of the season.”
“We do not talk about what is discussed in private conversations with players,” Fehr said. “We haven’t decertified, we haven’t talked publicly about decertification and we’re at the bargaining table trying to make a deal.”
That hasn’t been how decertification has played out in other leagues. Both NFL and NBA players dissolved their unions in 2011 only to eventually negotiate a deal without missing many games, an outcome that the NHLPA could be hoping for by following suit.
At this point, however, the absolute most games the NHL could likely play in a season is likely 65, with it becoming more likely any shortened season would be between 45 and 60 games by the week.
The cancellation of yet another full season isn’t expected until at least mid-January.
“Our general position is we’re available to meet anytime,” Fehr said. “I don’t know what we have to say right now.”
An hour after the cancellations were officially announced Wednesday, NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr released a statement condemning the league as unwilling to negotiate.
“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," the statement read.
"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.”