NHL officially locks out its players

Posted: September 16, 2012

The NHL, despite a record $3.3 billion in revenue last season, locked out its players at midnight Saturday.

This lockout follows the one in 2004-05, when the season was canceled, and would be the third since Gary Bettman was named the commissioner in 1993.

"Nobody wants to make a deal and play hockey more than I do," Bettman said during a news conference Thursday in New York. "This is what I do. This is what my life is about in terms of how I spend most of my waking hours. This is really hard."

For both sides.

"It's frustrating. We want to play, but we want a deal that's fair to the players," said Flyers backup goalie Michael Leighton after a recent workout at the Skate Zone in Voorhees.

Leighton planned to head home Friday and train in Ontario during the lockout.

During the lockout, the Flyers will not be allowed to practice at the Skate Zone unless they rent the ice.

The NHL and the NHL Players Association did not have any meetings scheduled prior to Saturday night's deadline, so many players purchased insurance and began making plans to play in Europe.

Bettman, who scored a victory for the owners in the negotiations that led to the last CBA, said once the deadline passes, the owners' last offer will come off the table.

Both sides are in a stalemate over hockey-related revenue (HRR). The players took in 57 percent in the last CBA. The owners initially wanted to reduce the players' take to 43 percent in the new, six-year proposal. The owners' last proposal was to give the players 49 percent in the first year, 48 percent in the second year, and 47 percent over the last four years.

The NHLPA's latest proposal was a package that gave the players 54.3 percent in the first year and ended at 52.7 percent.

There are numerous other issues - including the length of contracts, free agency, and increased revenue sharing for struggling franchises - but they have been placed on hold because of the HRR battle.

The players took a hit after the 2004-05 season was canceled, accepting a salary cap and a 24 percent rollback of all salaries.

Flyers coach Peter Laviolette was hoping to oversee the start of training camp on Sept. 21. The season is slated to begin on Oct. 11.

Both of those dates are in jeopardy.

"Whether I'm stuck in the middle or other coaches are stuck in the middle, it is what it is right now," Laviolette said. "All we can do right now as coaches is just prepare and get ready."

During the lockout, the Flyers who don't have to clear waivers will play for the AHL Adirondack Phantoms. That group includes Sean Couturier, Brayden Schenn, Eric Wellwood, Erik Gustafsson, and Zac Rinaldo, and they figure to be at the Phantoms' camp when it opens in Voorhees on Sept. 29.

Defensemen Danny Syvret and forward Matt Ford cleared waivers on Friday, and they will take part in the Phantoms' training camp.

Players are not paid during a lockout unless they have hockey-related injuries. On the Flyers, Chris Pronger, Andrej Meszaros, and Andreas Lilja will continue to be paid.

Players would miss their first paychecks on Oct. 15. They will, however, get escrow checks from the NHL in mid- to late October. Those checks account for 8 percent of their 2011-12 salaries.

Contact Sam Carchidi at scarchidi@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @BroadStBull.

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