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Lockout forces NHL to cancel first two weeks of regular '12-'13 season

With no end in sight to the labor dispute with locked-out players, the National Hockey League (NHL) canceled the first two weeks of the 2012-13 regular season on Thursday.

The decision impacts 82 games that were scheduled from Oct. 11-24 and marked the first time regular season action has been canceled since a lockout wiped out the entire 2004-05 season.

“We were extremely disappointed to have to make today's announcement. The game deserves better, the fans deserve better and the people who derive income from their connection to the NHL deserve better,” NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement.

“We remain committed to doing everything in our power to forge an agreement that is fair to the players, fair to the teams and good for our fans.”

Among the early games canceled were the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings' home opener versus the New York Rangers on Oct. 12 and a matchup of Original Six NHL teams on Oct. 13 between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens.

The block of games could still be rescheduled if the feuding sides reach a timely agreement to end the work stoppage, something that many experts say is unlikely given the wide gulf between the two sides.

The NHL imposed a lockout, which essentially halted all league operations, when the previous collective bargaining agreement expired 18 days ago with the owners and players at odds over how to divide a US$3.3 billion revenue pie.

The league had already said it would lose about US$100 million in revenue from its earlier decision to scrap the entire two-week preseason schedule.

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