September 13, 2012; New York, NY, USA; NHL commissioner Gary Bettman speaks during a press conference at the Crowne Plaza Times Square. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-US PRESSWIRE

NHL Cancels Pre-Season: It's Finally Real

The first real casualty of the NHL’s labour wars was announced today with the NHL’s pre-season schedule up to September 30th and the 2012 celebrations of Kraft Hockeyville postponed to 2013.

While gallons of electronic ink have been shed in the on-going struggle between ownership and players, this is the first tangible bit of the NHL season to be sacrificed on the alter of intransigence. We’ve finally entered the point of negotiations where actions have consequences and posturing is no longer empty.

For the Habs, this cancels 6 games from September 23 to 30, five of which were surefire sellout home dates at the Bell Centre and one a road trip to Ottawa. Geoff Molson’s wallet is going to be lighter for losing about one tenth of his expected home games. Even if the Habs don’t charge regular season prices, the combination of a sellout crowd buying tickets with real money and concession revenues from 20,000+ people in your building means that a pre-season game in Montreal probably makes more than a regular season game in half the league’s arenas.

Which is in a way, the reason we’re in this mess. The fundamental problem with the NHL is that its a conglomeration of 30 companies, about 10 of which are high level North American sports franchises in the same league as franchises that can’t dream of pulling in half those revenues but the NHL wants all 30 of them to be able to spend roughly the same amount.

Sorry Stirling-Rawdon, this wasn’t your fault.

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