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Don Cherry: 'If I'm betting, I'd say no' NHL season

CBC

Coach's Corner star Don Cherry gave a less-than-optimistic take on how long the NHL lockout will last while joining CBC's Metro Morning radio show on Thursday.

Cherry, who was also on to mark the 60th anniversary of Hockey Night in Canada, believes the NHL will endure another lost season.

“If I’m betting, I’d say no [NHL season],” Cherry told host Matt Galloway.

If the charismatic broadcaster’s gloomy outlook becomes a reality, it would be the second time in eight years that a lockout would claim the entire NHL season.

The current lockout, now in its 47th day, has already seen 326 regular-season games lost — or 26.5 per cent of the schedule — after the NHL cancelled contests through Nov. 30 last week.

The league reportedly may cancel its signature regular-season event — the Winter Classic — on Friday.

Cherry expects the season to be wiped out if the owners and players can’t settle on a new collective bargaining agreement by Jan. 1.

“I'll tell you one thing, if [the lockout] goes after Jan. 1, we might have [the season] gone," Cherry said. "That’s the way I feel.”

Two weeks ago the NHL proposed what it called a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenues with the players, who quickly countered with three offers of their own, all of which were swiftly rejected by the owners.

NHL commissioner Gary Betttman has been heavily criticized for his handling of the CBA negotiations and the lockout — the third during his 19-year tenure as league boss. But Cherry, a critic of Bettman over the years, came to the commissioner’s defence.

“It’s absolutely ridiculous,” he said. “[The owners] had a vote at the start… 30 said yes [to the] lockout. It wasn’t Bettman. If they had said no lockout, there wouldn’t have been a lockout. He’s the guy everybody goes after, it’s ridiculous. If 20 owners walked up to him right now and said ‘we’re going back,' they’d go back.”

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