Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Florida Panthers fans hoping to see some great hockey may have to break out the DVD collection now that the NHL lockout has been in effect for more than a day.
Both the NHL Players Association and the NHL have hardened their positions and don’t seem especially willing to move enough to break the lockout. There were no formal talks Sunday after the league locked out the players at midnight Saturday.
The NHL has become the poster-child for poor labor relations among major sports leagues. This year’s lockout is the fourth shutdown since 1992, including a year-long fight that forced the cancellation of the entire 2004-05 season. That year, the league successfully imposed a hard cap and rolled back salaries.
The players are saying they aren’t going to give in to a massive roll back in salaries again, which is part of what the league is asking for, despite record revenues. The NHL can ill-afford another season-long lockout. It’s never fully recovered in the eyes of the average sports fan from the lost 2004-05 season.
The core issue is how to split the record $3.3 billion in revenue. The owners want to decrease the percentage of hockey-related revenue that goes to players from 57 percent to between 43-47 percent. The union wants a guarantee that players will get at least the $1.8 billion paid out in salaries last season.
If that sounds familiar, it’s almost the exact same argument that cost the NBA part of its season last year during the NBA lockout.
“I’m sure we will remain in contact,” NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said. “But there are no negotiations planned or scheduled at this point.”
With the clock ticking, the league could start announcing the cancellation of preseason games this week and there’s little to no chance training camps will open on time.
NHL teams are seeking to keep fans on their side during the prolonged dispute and are prepared for the season to not start on time. At the end of each month, the Buffalo Sabres will refund any games that are canceled by the NHL.
The Florida Panthers are giving season ticket holders a few options. They can earn credits or cash toward future purchases, as well as getting a refund if they wish. The team said refunds will be given only for games that are canceled and not rescheduled. As of now, no preseason games have been canceled yet.
Also at stake for the league are several key dates including the New Year’s Day outdoor Winter Classic set to be held at the 115,000-seat Michigan Stadium next year. The January 27 All-Star game set to be hosted by the Columbus Blue Jackets could also be in jeopardy depending on the length of the lockout.
The NHL has lost nearly 1,700 games to work stoppages since 1992.
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