NHL wipes out another block of games

The National Hockey League has eliminated another block of games from the schedule with the lockout nearing a full three months.

Games from Dec. 15 through Dec. 30 were the latest to be wiped out, bringing the total to 526 lost to the lockout that started Sept. 16. The Winter Classic on New Year's Day was also canceled, as was the All-Star Weekend in late January.

Three days of lengthy negotiations last week between owners and players gave a glimmer of hope, but again ended without a collective bargaining agreement.

Last Thursday, the union had initially stated progress was being made. Donald Fehr had even indicated the sides were close on certain monetary numbers, but the tenor changed soon after when the union chief re-emerged and said owners rejected the players' latest proposal.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly also spoke last Thursday and said the league had made concessions monetarily but wouldn't budge on certain items, including the length of the agreement itself and length of player contracts.

The league wants a 10-year labor deal with an opt-out clause after eight years, while the union has offered an eight-year contract with the ability to re-open after six years.

As for player contracts, the NHL wants to limit them to five years -- seven if a club re-signs its own player.

Bettman said last week the league wouldn't have a season of less than 48 games -- the same length of the lockout-shortened campaign of 1994-95. The latest round of cancellations has obliterated 48.2 percent of the original 2012-13 schedule.

There has been speculation that the two sides could resume negotiations some time this week.