Bettman Says Full Regular NHL Season Is No Longer ‘Reality’

A full National Hockey League regular season won’t happen unless a labor deal with players is put in place today, Commissioner Gary Bettman said.

An 82-game season would require “we drop the puck Nov. 2, which would necessitate we make a deal” by today, Bettman told reporters yesterday. “The union has chosen not to engage on our proposal or to make a new proposal of their own, so unfortunately it looks like an 82-game season is not going to be a reality.”

The league’s last offer proposed an even revenue split between owners and players. None of the union’s three counter-offers was accepted by owners. The sides haven’t met since Oct. 18 and no discussions are scheduled.

“Sure you can play an abbreviated season; I’d rather play a full season and I’m sure our fans would rather we play a full season,” Bettman said “That’s why we made the offer we did.”

The league will resume negotiations if the union agrees to focus on the NHL’s latest offer or it tables its own proposal, Bettman said.

“We gave our very best offer,” Bettman said, “and that offer, for better or for worse, was contingent on playing an 82-game season. So I think things actually in some respects may get more difficult.”

The players were locked out Sept. 16, the day after the old collective bargaining agreement expired. The league has canceled games through Nov. 1 and may consider further cancellations at the end of the week.

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