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NHL Cancels 1st Month of Preseason Games

Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin.

Just in case anyone outside of Canada actually cares, the NHL – mired in labor strife that could last for months – has shown it is serious about its position.

The league has canceled all preseason games through Sept. 30, a move that puts the start of the regular season on time in jeopardy.

It is believed that more cancellations — including the New Jersey Devils-New York Islanders preseason game at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on Oct. 2 — will follow as the lockout continues, sources told ESPNNewYork.com.

Although not surprising — the league was expected to cancel the soon-approaching games shortly after the collective bargaining agreement expired at midnight Saturday — the move is a clear signal that the lack of progress in labor talks between the NHL and NHLPA is a concern.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly and Steve Fehr have been in communication this week, although formal talks have not resumed. The two sides last engaged in substantive discussions one week ago, when they traded proposals in the days leading up to the league-imposed deadline.

The cancellation of games came only hours after news surfaced that the league informed its workers about impending cuts and reduced work hours.

Multiple sources told ESPNNewYork.com that league staffers were told they’d be forced to take 20 percent pay cuts and would be transitioning to a four-day work week beginning Oct. 1.

The move to cancel games is also an indication that the start date of the NHL’s regular-season schedule — Oct. 11 — is very much in jeopardy.

The two sides have reached an impasse on the core economic issues needed to broker a new deal and have little time to bridge the gap without losing any regular-season games.

Meanwhile, the longer the lockout extends, more and more players – like all-star Alex Ovechkin, who is headed to Russia — will play professionally in other countries until there is a resolution.

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