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New NHL schedule depends on new labor deal

Thursday - 6/21/2012, 5:19pm  ET

By LARRY LAGE
AP Sports Writer

(AP) - If the NHL can avoid another work stoppage, the schedule for the upcoming season is set.

The league announced Thursday that the Los Angeles Kings will raise their Stanley Cup championship banner Oct. 12 when they host the New York Rangers.

The current collective bargaining agreement, though, expires Sept. 15.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said May 30 that he expected negotiations with the players' association on a new CBA to begin in a couple of weeks. If there have been talks taking place or scheduled, the league isn't saying.

"No update to offer," NHL spokesman Frank Brown wrote in an email.

Messages seeking comment were left Thursday with NHL Players' Association spokesman Jonathan Weatherdon.

The Kings, who hoisted their first Stanley Cup earlier this month, will travel to play New Jersey on Feb. 9 in a finals rematch in their only scheduled matchup.

Opening night matchups Oct. 11 include Boston playing at Philadelphia, and Colorado hosting St. Louis.

Detroit will face Toronto in the Winter Classic on Jan. 1 at Michigan Stadium and the All-Star game is Jan. 27 in Columbus, Ohio. Just two of 30 teams aren't scheduled to play when the regular season ends April 13.

The NHL canceled the 2004-05 season before agreeing on a CBA that is set to expire in less than three months. Coming out of that lockout, the league got a salary cap it wanted after the players tried to avoid it.

Bettman and NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr have declined to publicly discuss what the major issues will be in upcoming labor talks.

"I am hopeful this all sorts out easily because labor peace is preferable to the alternative," Bettman said during a news conference on May 30 before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals.

On the same night in Newark, N.J., Fehr said it was his goal to start the season on time. The former head of the baseball players' union joined the NHLPA as a special assistant before becoming its executive director nearly two years ago.

"I have some ideas about how it's going to go, but I have learned that making predictions in this business is a bit of a foolish enterprise," Fehr said last month. "Too many things can happen that can cause you to change course."

The NBA played a shortened season this year after a five-month labor dispute that resulted in a lockout and delayed the start of the season until late December. The NFL also had a lockout that shortened training camp last year.


(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)