February 17, 2005

Cornellians React to NHL Cancellation

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One-hundred fifty three days after the National Hockey League locked out its players in September, the 2004-05 season was officially cancelled yesterday, after both the league and the National Hockey League Players’ Association rejected each others’ final offers.

At dispute was a team-by-team salary cap that became the sticking point well before the expiration of the last collective bargaining agreement between the two sides. The NHL becomes the first major North American sports league to cancel an entire season, and the Stanley Cup will not be awarded this year for the first time since 1919.

“As I stand before you today, it is my sad duty to announce that because that solution has not yet been attained, it no longer is practical to conduct even an abbreviated season,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman ’74 stated in a press conference yesterday in New York. “Accordingly, I have no choice but to announce the formal cancellation of play for 2004-05.”

The news was met with frustration at Cornell, as many Cornellians have substantial connections to the NHL.

“Like any other hockey person, I’m really disappointed that they couldn’t get a deal done, especially this late in the process,” said men’s hockey coach Mike Schafer ’86. “It’s disappointing for the players and owners and everyone who enjoys watching hockey, but the people who make their living from it away from the game, it’s really devastating.”

Including Bettman, six Cornell graduates hold prominent positions in the NHL, including Toronto Maple Leafs forward Joe Nieuwendyk ’88. In addition, four recent Cornellians — Stephen B