TORONTO – Frustrating TV hockey viewers, the National Hockey League on Friday canceled the 2012-13 regular-season schedule through Dec. 14.
Also chopped from the 2012-13 season schedule the NHL all-star game on Jan. 27, 2013 in Columbus, Ohio, which was to be broadcast on the NBC Sports Network in the U.S.
The cancellation of 96 more regular season games came as the NHL lockout continues, with the league owners and the NHL players association failing to agree terms on a new collective bargaining agreement.
The move hurts the NBC Sports Network and NBC, which were entering into the second year of a new 10-year agreement with the NHL to broadcast games in the U.S.
Wiping much of the first half of the NHL season from the schedule has left Canadian conventional and sports broadcasters scrambling to find replacement programming. That includes the CBC airing re-runs of historical NHL games on Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday nights, a main source of advertising revenue now lost to the pubcaster.
"The reality of losing more regular-season games as well as the 2013 NHL all-star weekend in Columbus is extremely disappointing," said NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly in a statement Friday.
The pro hockey league earlier announced the cancellation of the Winter Classic, the NHL’s signature regular-season event.
The continuing NHL lockout is also fraying nerves among hockey pundits here.
Don Cherry, a Hockey Night in Canada commentator, told the NHL players in a Toronto Star newspaper column Friday to “smarten up” to help end what he called a nightmare for hockey fans.
“And, how ’bout the players now gettin’ caps that say on the front “Puck Gary?” Can’t you see you’re hurtin’ your own cause? And, by the way, you’re hurtin’ a lot more people, too, than yourselves,” Cherry wrote about protests by players against NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.