League moves closer to canceling entire season

Thu Dec 20, 2012 5:23pm EST

National Hockey League (NHL) Commissioner Gary Bettman gestures as he describes negotiations between the NHL and the NHL Players Association regarding the difficulties of their current labor negotiations in New York, December 6, 2012. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

National Hockey League (NHL) Commissioner Gary Bettman gestures as he describes negotiations between the NHL and the NHL Players Association regarding the difficulties of their current labor negotiations in New York, December 6, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Lucas Jackson

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(Reuters) - The National Hockey League (NHL) canceled another two weeks of the regular season on Thursday, wiping out all games through January 14 due to a labor dispute with locked-out players that threatens to wipe out the entire campaign.

The decision, taken with no talks scheduled between the league and players, brought the total number of lost regular season games to 625, or 50.8 percent of the season, the NHL said in a brief statement.

The NHL has previously said a shortened season should include at least 48 games, which means a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with players must be reached in the coming weeks to avoid losing an entire season, normally comprised of 82 games.

Players are currently casting ballots on whether or not to give their executive board the authority to file a disclaimer of interest, which would essentially dissolve the union and allow individual players to file anti-trust lawsuits against the NHL.

The key issues in the dispute, which began when the NHL locked out its players in mid-September, revolve around the length of the CBA, rules governing term limits on contracts and the transition rules to help teams get under the salary cap.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Larry Fine)

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