National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman announced the formal cancellation of the 2005 NHL season at a 1:00 PM press conference on Wednesday. It marks the first time in North American pro sports history that a season has been cancelled due to labor issues.
The NHL and the NHL Players’ Association traded emails late Tuesday night but even as each side offered some consessions, an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement could not be reached. The 11:00 AM deadline that Bettman set came and went without further negotiations.
In the end, the best offer that the league could come up with included a salary cap at $42.5 million. Although it was up from their previous offer, it wasn’t enough.
The players, who agreed to work with a salary cap earlier in the week after months of refusing one, offered a deal with a “soft” cap set at $49 million. The cap could be exceeded twice in six years but only by 10%.
Bettman contended that if every team spent to the limit of the cap, they’d be spending more than they did last year under the old system. At the close of negotiations, NHLPA executive directory Bob Goodenow replied that not every team would be at the cap and that Bettman’s math was flawed.
Had an agreement been reached, a 28-game season would have been played with full playoffs.