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NHL put on ice for the 2004-05 season

The Story

After five months of very public labour negotiations, National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman announces the cancellation of the 2004-05 hockey season. In the days and hours leading up to the dreaded statement, many observers and fans held out hope that the season could be saved with a last-minute deal. In this CBC clip Bettman says he "had no choice" but to call off the season, but many Canadian hockey fans beg to differ.  

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Feb. 16, 2005
Guests: Gary Bettman, Pierre Boivin, Bob Goodenow, Grant Marshall, Richard Peddie, Richard Stursberg
Host: Peter Mansbridge
Reporter: Rick Boguski, Tom Harrington
Duration: 7:17
Footage source: NHL.

Did You know?

• Prior to the official cancellation of the 2004-05 NHL season, the league had cancelled a total of 834 games.

• The NHL is the only major North American professional sports league in history to cancel an entire season due to a labour dispute.

• Cancelling the 2004-05 season means the Stanley Cup would not be awarded for the first time since 1919. During that year, the Stanley Cup series between the Montreal Canadiens and Seattle Metropolitans was cancelled due to an outbreak of the Spanish flu.

The morning after the 2004-05 NHL season was cancelled, headlines of major Canadian newspapers read:
• Montreal Gazette: The Day the Season Died.
• Toronto Star: Game Off.
• Ottawa Sun: Stick a fork in the NHL season. It's Done.
• Halifax Daily News: See you next year?
• Calgary Herald: A crying shame.
• Vancouver Province: No Hockey for You!
• The Globe and Mail: The End.

• The dispute over a new contract hinged on the league's proposal of a controversial salary cap, which was firmly rejected by the players' union. In the days leading up to the Feb. 16th cancellation, the union agreed to a salary cap of $49 million U.S. But that was still too high compared to the $42.5 million U.S. the NHL wanted in place.

• The NHL players' union president Bob Goodenow responded to Bettman's $42.5 million U.S. offer by saying, "The players clearly felt that the situation, as it was presented to them, was not a fair deal, not a deal that they could go forward with and recommend. We'll see what the future holds."

In 2003, Toronto led the spending on all Canadian NHL franchises at $72.8 million U.S., followed by:
• Ottawa at $48.55 million U.S.,
• Montreal at $47 million U.S.,
• Vancouver at $46.8 million U.S.,
• Calgary at $40 million U.S. and
• Edmonton at $35.7 million U.S.

• Asked what he would say to kids with dreams of playing in the NHL, commissioner Gary Bettman said: "My message to the kids and our fans is hockey's a great game. There's a lot of hockey being played at all levels. Get involved, do it. We will be back and we will be back better than ever and hopefully as soon as possible. Don't give up on the game. It's too good."

• The last NHL game that was played prior to the lockout was on June 7, 2004 in Tampa Bay, when the Lightning beat the Calgary Flames 2-1 in Game 7 to capture the Stanley Cup.



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