Cumberland Times-News

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November 24, 2012

NHL impasse: Will it ever end?

The National Hockey League season was supposed to be in full swing by now.

Instead, like the NFL in 2011 and the NBA last season, the NHL is mired in a labor dispute, with the owners locking out the players and — so far — wiping out more than two months of the season.

In question-and-answer form, here's a look at where things stand:

Q: What has been lost so far?

A: Including Friday's round of cancellations of all games through Dec. 14, there have been 423 games wiped out — including the New Year's Day Winter Classic — along with January's All-Star Weekend slated for Columbus, Ohio. More than one-third of the regular season has been removed from the calendar.

Q: How did things get to this point?

A: The collective bargaining agreement between owners and the players' association, that was in effect since the last lockout ended in 2005, expired on Sept. 16. Because a new deal wasn't in place then, the NHL locked out the players and said the new season wouldn't begin without an agreement. So far, the sides have been unable to find a solution on issues such as the division of revenue, free-agency rights and salary arbitration. The lockout entered its 70th day on Saturday.

Q: Is this the first time hockey has had such problems?

A: No. Since Gary Bettman became NHL commissioner in 1993, the league has had three lockouts that greatly affected seasons. The first in 1994-95 forced that regular season to be shortened to only 48 games per team — instead of 82 — after a deal was reached in January. The entire 2004-05 season was canceled, marking the first time a major North American professional sports league lost a full campaign to a labor dispute. The main issue then was the owners' insistence on obtaining a salary cap for the first time. It wasn't until after the season was canceled that players agreed to the cap.

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