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NHL Cancels Games Through Mid-January; 51% of Season Wiped Out

The National Hockey League wiped 99 more games off its schedule due to the players’ lockout, pushing the 2012-2013 season to the brink of cancellation.

With the latest eliminations announced yesterday, the season couldn’t begin until Jan. 15 at the earliest. In 1994-95, an NHL lockout ended Jan. 11 and a 48-game schedule began on Jan. 20. A lockout wiped out the entire 2004-05 season.

The NHL, which previously canceled games through Dec. 30, as well as the All-Star Game in Columbus, Ohio, on Jan. 27 and the New Year’s Day outdoor Winter Classic game at Michigan Stadium, has insisted that a 48-game schedule would be required to avoid losing the whole season.

The lockout now has caused the cancellation of 625 regular- season games, or 51 percent of the schedule.

While the two sides have no new bargaining sessions scheduled, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly was optimistic the season could be saved.

Speaking on a Canadian radio show two days ago, Daly said “yes” when asked if there would be an agreement reached in time. Daly was told he was only allowed to answer “yes or no” in the interview.

The two sides are arguing over how to split revenue and other issues, including salary arbitration and the length of unrestricted free agency. League revenue grew to $3.3 billion last season, up 50 percent from $2.2 billion in 2003-04.

Under the previous agreement, players received 57 percent, or $1.9 billion, of the sales. The remaining $1.4 billion, or 43 percent, was shared among the league’s 30 team owners. The league offered a 50-50 split in its latest contract proposal.

NHL players have been locked out since Sept. 16, the day after the old contract expired.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Buteau in Atlanta at mbuteau@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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