NHL Lock-Out 2004: relive the magic!

In case you blocked it all out, here’s a chronology of the last lock-out, which I submit just for the fun of imaging it all happening again, exactly this way at exactly this pace.



Oct. 1 — […] Union [makes] offer which includes five percent salary rollback. League says no and counters by saying under any new system team payrolls could not exceed $31 million […].


Jan. 14 — First talks in more than three months […].

Feb. 12 — League […] releases […] financial report, which says the NHL is on a “treadmill to obscurity” if player costs aren’t reduced. The report says only 11 of 30 teams were profitable in 2002-03, when total operating losses were $273 million. The union calls the report “flawed.”

April 29-Sept. 9 — […] League [expresses] desire for a “partnership/cost certain system for player compensation”; union reminds league of aversion to salary cap system.

Sept. 15 — Bettman announces lockout.

Oct. 13 — First official day of the NHL’s regular season missed.

Dec. 9 — […] Union surprises with offer highlighted by 24% salary rollback on all existing player contracts. Other givebacks in entry-level system, qualifying offers, salary arbitration, and slightly better payroll tax, but no salary cap.

Dec. 14 — […] The NHL, as expected, rejects the union’s proposal and offers its own counter-proposal, which the union rejects. The league’s offer includes a salary cap [and] the scrapping of salary arbitration […].


Jan. 17 — Players’ executive committee president Trevor Linden invites both sides back to the negotiating table, but with a small group that does not include Bettman or Goodenow.

Jan. 19-27 — Small-group meetings held, […] very little progress.

Feb. 2-4 — Marathon round of meetings […] League [makes] 15-point proposal, once again featuring salary cap — and NHLPA rejects it. […]

Feb. 9 — NHL surprises the union, Bettman calling Goodenow and asking if they can meet. League offers “compromise” deal which union quickly rejects. Bettman […] announces there won’t be hockey unless a deal is put on paper by weekend.

Feb. 10 — NHL, NHLPA part ways […].

Feb. 14 — The NHL schedules a news conference for Feb. 16 during which it plans to cancel the season. Then, what looks like a breakthrough: The league drops its demand for a link between league revenues and player costs, and the players’ association agrees to accept a salary cap during talks in Niagara Falls, N.Y.

Feb. 15 — The sides […] never agree on a cap. The owners bump up their offer of a $40 million cap to $42.5 million; the players counterproposal is for $49 million, which the league rejects […].

Feb. 16 — Bettman […] cancels season.

Feb. 19 — The NHL and the union [meet] at an undisclosed location [with] Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux, but talks [break] down […].

March 1 — NHL [considers] replacement players after board of governors meeting.

March 11 — NHL and the union meet for first time since the Feb. 19 emergency session.

March 17 — NHL makes two offers to union. 1) $37.5-million U.S. team-by-team salary cap offer. 2) A deal linking revenues to payrolls. The union doesn’t like either.

March 25 — NHL files a charge […] against the NHLPA over a union policy that appears to financially penalize members who become replacement players. […]

March 22-25 — The NHLPA […] comes up with idea of upper and lower limit on […] payrolls. The idea would eventually lead to the new collective bargaining agreement.

April 4 — The union introduces the [upper/lower limit idea]. The idea finds merit with the NHL, although both sides keep this private.


April 28 — NHLPA applies for union certification in Quebec and British Columbia, moves intended to block the potential use of replacement players in those provinces.

May 5 — Talks resume with both sides agreeing on a more aggressive schedule to get the deal done. They meet a total of 31 times in May and June alone.

June 15 — A British Columbia Labour Relations Board hearing into whether the NHLPA can be certified as a union in the province is put on hold. The NHLPA, citing recent progress in labor talks with the NHL, agrees to the league’s request to adjourn the proceedings.

July 13 — A tentative deal is reached after more than 24 hours straight talks, the culmination of 10 consecutive days of meetings.


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