The &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/sport/2003/04/05/45644.html' target=_blank>NHL canceled what little was left of the season Wednesday after a series of last-minute offers were rejected on the final day of negotiations.
A lockout over a salary cap shut down the game before it ever got a chance to start in October. Now the NHL, already low on the popularity scale in the United States, becomes the first major pro sports league in North America to lose an entire season to a labor dispute.
"As I stand before you today, it is my sad duty to announce ... it no longer is practical to conduct even an abbreviated season," commissioner Gary Bettman said. "Accordingly, I have no choice but to announce the formal cancellation of play for 2004-05. This is a sad, regrettable day that all of us wish could have been avoided," he said, as Boston Globe informed.
According to the Independent, the loss of the season means that the &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/sport/2002/08/05/33882.html' target=_blank>Stanley Cup, the oldest prize in US professional sport, will not be awarded for the first time since 1919, when a flu epidemic forced its cancellation. But the longer term implications are even more grave.