From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- The next round of NHL cuts could be the deepest yet.With no deal in sight and no negotiations planned, the NHL chopped another two weeks off the schedule and moved closer to canceling the entire hockey season.No drop-dead date has been announced, but it is clear the sides are running out of time to reach a deal. The NHL said Thursday that all games through Jan. 14 have been canceled. More than 50 percent of the schedule has been lost, and the rest is now in danger, too."I don't want to characterize what today's cancellations mean or don't mean," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told The Associated Press in an email Thursday. "I will stand on the announcement that was made."The players' association didn't have any comment about the latest cancellations.So far, 625 regular-season games have been called off, including nearly 100 in the announcement made Thursday -- the 96th day of the NHL's lockout. The New Year's Day Winter Classic and the All-Star game also have been lost.The NHL had previously canceled games through Dec. 30.Daly said in a radio interview Wednesday that mid-January is likely the latest the sides could go to make a deal to save some of the season. When pressed, however, he said he expects the season will be played.The NHL is already the only North American professional sports league to cancel a season because of a labor dispute, losing the 2004-05 campaign to a lockout.Daly said the sides weren't in contact Thursday. The groups have remained apart since two days of meetings with a federal mediator last week produced no progress. There haven't been negotiations since Dec. 6 in New York, when talks broke down after a few days of bargaining.Since the sides split last week, there has been limited contact -- phone calls and a brief email exchange.The NHL believes negotiations should resume only when there is something new to say."I don't think either party is refusing a meeting," Daly said Wednesday. "But unless there is an indication one side or the other is prepared to move or has a new idea to move the process forward -- and so far neither side has indicated -- I am not sure what we would do at the meeting."What is the agenda? Who is directing the conversation? We don't have anything new to say right now."Union executive director Donald Fehr said Wednesday he was glad to hear Daly's belief that there would be a season, and added he hopes Daly is right."Hopefully, we'll get back together and negotiate out the remaining issues as soon as possible," Fehr said. "(We aren't talking) because the owners have not indicated a desire to resume."We've indicated any number of times that we're willing to resume when they are (and) we're willing to resume without preconditions. So we're waiting to hear back from them."Last week, the NHL announced it filed a class action suit in the U.S. District Court in New York, seeking to establish that its lockout is legal. In a filing posted Thursday, the court said the union had three weeks after receiving the suit to file an answer.
Here we go again.
Another day of delayed and pending coronavirus tests. Another six Cubs sit out workouts and a scrimmage as a precaution.
Another reason to doubt whether Major League Baseball can shore up the minimum, baseline safety expectation it promised — timely testing — to pull off a 60-game season that involves teams traveling to and from 30 different locations for nine weeks.
“Yeah, I think some more players will opt out,” Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo said Wednesday as the Cubs and other teams adjusted to yet another day of last-minute personnel and scheduling adjustments because MLB’s every-other-day testing process continues to produce gaps, delays and flaws with results.
“There’s definitely a level of fire drill some mornings,” Cubs manager David Ross said.
Neither Ross nor Rizzo pointed fingers at MLB or anyone else, Ross again pointing out this is a first-in-history undertaking. And both said they expected the system to improve.
But to Rizzo’s original point, as each day of training camp passes through the hourglass toward next week’s openers without a solution so, too, it seems more players are likely to pass on playing at all.
Thirteen already have opted out, including Giants star Buster Posey and former Cy Young winners David Price and Felix Hernandez — none of those with a pre-existing condition that puts him at higher risk.
Many other high-profile players throughout the majors, including Angels superstar Mike Trout and the Cubs’ Yu Darvish say they haven’t ruled out joining the 13, depending on what they see from health and safety conditions as this progresses.
“We didn’t sign up for these bad protocols as far as testing,” said Rizzo, already sidelined with a bad back. “The biggest thing for us is the safety.
“Listen, we are in a pandemic. We are all at risk,” he added. “We all want to play baseball because that’s what we love to do, and we have an opportunity to bring joy to a lot of people that are home, through these tough times.
“But we are all human. If guys start testing positive left and right and this gets out of control, I’m sure you’ll see some guys opt out.”
Darvish said over the weekend that he was prepared to go home if he didn’t like what he saw from a safety standpoint with the Cubs — who so far have been the only team in the league yet to have a player test positive since intake testing.
But he also said, “I’m still concerned.” And it’s hard to imagine that continued delays and uncertainties within the testing process will ease that concern as teams begin to travel out of their bubbles next week.
“Credit to all of our guys for the most part coming in and staying safe,” Rizzo said. “Obviously you can’t control [everything]. You go pick up something at the grocery store and you get it, you can’t control that. But being as safe as you can away [from the park is key].
“Generally, a lot of people want to play, and that’s what we want to do, and it’s just about staying safe.”
Six Cubs players will miss Wednesday’s intrasquad game as they wait for results from Monday’s COVID-19 testing.
It’s the second time this week multiple Tier 1 members of the Cubs — which includes players and coaches — have missed team activities while waiting for test results. Manager David Ross and five other Tier 1 Cubs did not participate in Monday’s activities after Saturday’s results came back pending and required retests.
Ross has preached patience throughout Summer Camp as Major League Baseball works through its early testing hiccups, repeating that message on Wednesday.
“This not easy — I think I've said that a million times — it’s not easy on the players, it's not easy on Major League Baseball,” Ross told reporters. “I don't think it's anybody's fault that things are delayed.
“If you want to point fingers, we’re focusing on the wrong task. We've got to focus on, as the Chicago Cubs, doing the best work we can when we're on that field and controlling what we can control, and testing is not in our control. To be frustrated is just a waste of energy for me.”
Because of the delay, Robel Garcia, Christopher Morel, Brennen Davis and Miguel Amaya joined the Cubs from their South Bend alternate training site for Wednesday’s scrimmage.