NBC Sports and the various regional sports networks must be wondering if the NHL lockout will ever end. Today the league said it was canceling all regular-season games through November 1, making it a total of 135 games down the tubes as the league and the players fight over a new labor deal. The NHL made a very public offer earlier this week that ws rejected by the players’ association yesterday, prompting today’s move. That offer was based on the idea that, if accepted, the NHL could squeeze in a full 82-game season if the season started by November 2. At this point it’s still a workable scenario — unlike the wacky schedule that emerged out of the NBA lockout last season, when teams were often forced to play back-to-back-to-back nights to make up the lost time and only fit in 66 games.
NBC Sports signed a record $2 billion, 10-year TV rights deal with the NHL that was to begin this year with 100 games on NBC Sports Group networks — including the first-ever national game on Thanksgiving Friday. This season is supposed to see the LA Kings, from the nation’s No. 2 media market, defend its Stanley Cup title. This is the 4th shutdown for the NHL since 1992, including a year-long dispute that forced the cancellation of the entire 2004-2005 season.