Marleau: League already canceled these games during summer

Sharks forward claims the NHL made the decision to cancel the 461 games they've erased from the schedule so far months ago, but released that information in the past few weeks to present the illusion of negotiations.

The last adjective anyone would associate with Patrick Marleau is outspoken. Awkward, reserved and well-eyebrowed are all more accurate descriptors, even though that last one isn't even a word. That's why it's probably worth listening when he makes a statement as adversarial and unsettling as the one he sent to Josh Rimer of NHL Home Ice via text message:

The league had these games canceled already in the summer. They are just releasing that info now. Every time we move closer, they pull further away.

That the NHL decided well in advance of substantive negotiations to carry out an extended lockout until the players inevitably cry uncle isn't particularly surprising in and of itself; after all, this is still Gary Bettman's league and he certainly didn't show hesitation to flush an entire season down the drain seven years ago. But Marleau is the first player I'm aware of to be this forthright in stating the NHL has never been interested in real negotiations with the players' association, instead content to announce "cancellations" of games they placed on the chopping block months ago.

This being a text message, it's unclear whether Marleau means the league had literally already canceled a swath of the schedule in the summer or metaphorically "canceled" the games with their unproductive negotiating tactics and bogus opening offer but the former seems far more likely based on the second sentence. Either way, along with the league's official withdrawal of their proposal from last Tuesday that called for a 50/50 split of revenue, this is more evidence that offer was nothing more than a PR move, as some speculated at the time. This lockout will end when the NHL gets exactly what they want and not a minute sooner.

(h/t Puck Drunk Love)