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NHL puts All-Star game out of its misery, cancels all games through December 14

Harrison Mooney
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The only real winner in this lockout: chain-link fencing, which is getting more play than ever.

We were beginning to wonder if the 2013 NHL All-Star game was set to become the Katniss Everdeen of this lockout, inexplicably surviving beyond anybody's wildest fantasies despite coming from Columbus, hockey's hapless version of District 12.

But sadly, no. Turns out, the ASG wasn't the Katniss of the NHL Hunger Games. It was Rue.

[Related: NHL players' union might enter 'murky world' of decertification]

Not even the lockout can save Columbus from doleful news. All-Star Weekend, along with the schedule through December 14, has been cornered and canceled by the NHL. From their press release:

The National Hockey League announced today the cancellation of the 2012-13 regular-season schedule through December 14. The NHL also announced the cancellation of the 2013 NHL All-Star Weekend scheduled for Jan. 26-27 in Columbus, Ohio. The cancellations are necessary due to the absence of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NHL Players' Association and the NHL.

A total of 422 regular-season games -- 34.3 percent of the season -- were scheduled for Oct. 11 through Dec. 14.

"The reality of losing more regular-season games as well as the 2013 NHL All-Star Weekend in Columbus is extremely disappointing," said NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly. "We feel badly for NHL fans and particularly those in Columbus, and we intend to work closely with the Blue Jackets organization to return the NHL All-Star events to Columbus and their fans as quickly as possible."

Compassion for Columbus -- who immediately announced refunds -- may be the one thing that unites us all at this point.

Aaron Portzline at the Columbus Dispatch, on another rough day in Columbus:

The All-Star Game, and the weeklong festivities surrounding it, would have brought an estimated $12 million into central Ohio. It would have been one of the most notable international sporting events staged in Columbus, along with golf's U.S. Open (1927) and Ryder Cup (1931 and 1987), the NCAA men's basketball tournament, and U.S.-Mexico World Cup soccer qualifying games.

"First and foremost, the Blue Jackets are very disappointed for our fans that All-Star festivities will not be coming to our great city in January," Blue Jackets president Mike Priest.  "Our commitment to bringing this event to our fans is as strong as ever.  The NHL believes Columbus will be a great host and will work with us to bring the All-Star Celebration here as soon as possible."

As we've previously mentioned, while returning the All-Star events to Ohio as quickly as possible is a top priority, it actually won't happen all that quickly. The 2013-14 NHL All-Star Game is likely to be skipped with the players heading to the Sochi Olympics, which means Blue Jackets fans will have to wait until 2014-15 at the earliest to host an All-Star Game.

On the bright side, that gives the Blue Jackets two years to find or develop an All-star-calibre player to represent them.

[NHL players speaking out against lockout doesn't mean NHLPA is cracking]

As for what's survived this most recent Black Friday gamocide, still on the schedule, for now, is the NHL's busy Saturday on December 15th, with all but 4 teams slated to play. There are some big games, too, including the Toronto Maple Leafs versus the Vancouver Canucks, Chicago at St. Louis, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the Pittsburgh Penguins visiting Winnipeg, and Smashville playing host to hated rivals, the Detroit Red Wings.

Two days later, the last two Stanley Cup champions go head to head as the Los Angeles Kings visit the Boston Bruins. No doubt the league doesn't want to lose that one.

The bad news is that saving it likely means striking a deal within the next two weeks, and the way things are going, that looks like a longshot. The worse news is that, according to Chris Botta, the next cancellation could be the season.

Are we in the end times?

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