Six more Sharks games canceled

It's official: there will be no more NHL hockey in 2012 as the league announced the cancellation of all games through January 14th.

This has become far too common an occurrence but the NHL announced today the cancellation of another batch of games. The league has wiped the slate clean on all contests scheduled through January 14th, bringing the total number of games lost during this most recent lockout to 625 and the count of games canceled during Gary Bettman's tenure as league commissioner to a whopping 2323, far more games than the Sharks have played in their history.

Speaking of the Sharks, they were slated to host the St. Louis Blues, Philadelphia Flyers, Detroit Red Wings and Minnesota Wild, and visit Phoenix and Edmonton, during the period between December 30th (the last date through which the NHL had canceled its schedule) and January 14th.

Over half the season has now been scrapped. There will be no 2012-13 NHL season; if there's a season at all, it will have to take place entirely in the new year. Some very smart and plugged-in people are saying we've reached the mythic "drop-dead" date and the next cancellation to be announced will be the remainder of the season. That seems likely, although it's worth mentioning talk of a 28-game schedule circulated as late as February 2005 during the last lockout. At this point, a 48-game season would almost certainly be the absolute maximum length entertained. That's how long the lockout-shortened 1995 season, which began on January 20th of that year, lasted and even that resulted in the Stanley Cup nearly being awarded in July.

At this point, there's little hope the sides will resume negotiations in short order. The result of an NHLPA membership vote on whether to grant the union's executive board the authority to disclaim interest will be announced tomorrow, with the expectation that players will have voted in favor of the measure. At that point, the PA will likely pursue a disclaimer of interest, the barrier to that being litigation already filed by the NHL. Last year, the NBA and its players' association came to a season-saving agreement eleven days after both sides began levying lawsuits against one another but there's probably little sense in comparing a somewhat sensible sports league to its utterly dysfunctional cousin.

And so the most ridiculous labor dispute in sports history rages onward, crushing everything in its path. Hopefully someone will put an end to it soon.