During the last lockout, Bettman followed through on his vow to cancel the season if a deal wasn’t reached by a February deadline. A new collective bargaining agreement wasn’t completed until July, long after major damage had been done. It marked the first time a North American professional sport lost an entire season to a labor dispute.
In 2004, Daly announced Sept. 29 that there wouldn’t be any hockey in October. New proposals and negotiations in December and January did little to push the sides toward a settlement, and Bettman announced Feb. 16 that the season had been lost. It marked the first time since a flu epidemic in 1919 that the Stanley Cup wasn’t awarded.
Earlier this week, U.S. Sens. Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez of New Jersey sent a letter to Bettman and Fehr, urging them to consider the economic impact on their state if the dispute isn’t resolved.
The letter warned that the absence of New Jersey Devils’ games in Newark could mean millions of dollars in lost economic activity and jobs in especially tough economic times. The Devils advanced to the Stanley Cup finals last season, creating a financial boost to the city just five months ago.
Now, the lockout comes on the heels of the NBA’s Nets moving from Newark to Brooklyn, N.Y.
Lautenberg renewed his call for a settlement after the games were called off Thursday.
‘‘This cancellation of regular-season hockey games is a blow to businesses and workers in Newark and in hockey towns across the country,’’ he said in a statement. ‘‘Local jobs and millions of dollars of economic activity are being placed at risk every day that this dispute continues.
‘‘The NHL should keep in mind communities, workers, and families that are being hurt by its decision to pursue a lockout and cancel these games. Owners and players must find a way to start the season before the economies in Newark and other communities are further damaged.’’
Fehr responded in a letter Tuesday, and offered to meet with the senators in New Jersey.
‘‘As you observed, far too many people in Newark and other NHL cities will suffer as a result of this decision, including players,’’ Fehr said in his letter, regarding the lockout. ‘‘We are currently working with players to identify small business owners who will be affected to see what we can do during this period.
‘‘Unfortunately, the lockout was no surprise. Months ago, the owners made public their intention to lock out the players, and they did so the first chance they legally could. There was nothing the players could have done to prevent it — other than to agree to the enormous concessions the owners demand.’’