NHL cancels preseason games; where was NBA last year?

Even though we all knew it was going to happen, the announcement of the cancellation of NHL pre-season games was still a bit of a blow yesterday as the reality of the lockout hit.

“Oh, this is real, we’re going to start missing games over this.”

Just before closing time yesterday, the NHL sent out this press release. I thought some of the typography was a little odd:

NEW YORK – The National Hockey League announced today the cancellation of the 2012 pre$ea$on $chedule through $ept. 30. In addition, the 2012 Kraft Hockeyville pre$ea$on game, $cheduled for Oct. 3 in Belleville, Ontario, ha$ been po$tponed to 2013.

The cancellation of the $chedule wa$ nece$$ary becau$e of the ab$ence of a Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NHL Player$’ A$$ociation and the NHL.

While the Kraft Hockeyville game ha$ been po$tponed, many of the $cheduled celebration$ in the winning community of $tirling-Rawdon, Ontario, will proceed a$ planned beginning on $ept. 30.

This announcement just delays us another ten days at the minimum until we’ll be able to start discussing game day routines. It’s getting to the point in the year when you might be able to see your breath if you’re up early enough, and that’s supposed to coincide with the return of hockey.

(The cancellation of the game in Belleville is upsetting, too, especially since it was a chance for Stirling-Rawdon, Ontario to get itself put on the map alongside the great city of Terrace, BC that hosted Hockeyville back in 2009.)

From a conceptual standpoint, the Players’ gain more leverage the more games are missed, unless the NHL is committed to losing another full year of hockey, in which case the Players’ have no leverage. Once the league starts missing the revenue from the league showcase events is where it will really hurt them—and after all, there wasn’t a Winter Classic back in 2004-05.

Where was the NBA last time around?

I think NHL fans can expect a similar timeline. No sides have significant leverage in talks until October, and at that point I’d expect the first month of the season to be cancelled. If the league is exactly as predictably corrupt as I expect, there should be an agreement on December 1.

The NHL doesn’t collect most of its money until the latter half of the season, about when football season ends and they start to cash in on that NBC deal. The first NBC games are slated for American Thanksgiving weekend, but that’s not as necessary of an event as the Winter Classic that I think the NHL would be less willing to miss.

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