Labour issues

There have been four league-wide work stoppages in NHL history, all happening since 1992. The first was a strike by the National Hockey League Players Association in April 1992 which lasted for 10 days, but the strike was settled quickly and all affected games were rescheduled.[48] A lockout at the start of the 199495 season forced the league to reduce the schedule from 84 games to just 48, with the teams playing only intra-conference games during the reduced season.[48] The resulting collective bargaining agreement (CBA) was set for renegotiation in 1998 and extended to September 15, 2004.[49] With no new agreement in hand when the existing contract expired on September 15, 2004, league commissioner Gary Bettman announced a lockout of the players union and cessation of operations by the NHL head office.[49] The lockout shut down the league for 310 days, the longest in sports history; the NHL was the first professional sports league to lose an entire season.[49] The league vowed to install what it dubbed "cost certainty" for its teams, but the NHL Players Association countered that the move was little more than a euphemism for a salary cap, which the union initially said it would not accept. A new collective bargaining agreement was ratified in July 2005 with a term of six years with an option of extending the collective bargaining agreement for an additional year at the end of the term, allowing the NHL to resume as of the 200506 season.[49] On October 5, 2005, the first post-lockout NHL season took to the ice with 15 games, and consequently all 30 teams. Of those 15 games, 11 were in front of sell-out crowds.[50] Th NHL received record attendance in the 200506 season. 20,854,169 fans, an average of 16,955 per game, was a 1.2% increase over the previous mark held in the 200102 season.[51] Also, the Montreal Canadiens, Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, Minnesota Wild, Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Vancouver Canucks sold out all of their home games;[51][52] all six Canadian teams played to 98% capacity or better at every home game.[51] 24 of the 30 clubs finished even or ahead of their 200304 mark. The Pittsburgh Penguins had the highest increase at 33%, mainly because of 18-year-old first overall draft pick Sidney Crosby.[51][53] After losing a season to a labour dispute in 2005, attendance figures for League teams have returned to solid ground; the League's TV audience was slower to rebound because of American cable broadcaster ESPN's decision to drop the sport from its schedule.[54] The NHL's post-lockout agreement with NBC gave the league a share of revenue from each game's advertising sales, rather than the usual lump sum paid up front for game rights. The NHL is estimated to earn annual revenue of around $2.27 billion.[54] At midnight Saturday September 16, 2012, the league locked out its players as the previous labour pact expired.[55] The CBA from 2004 provided the Players Union with a 57 percent share in revenue. The NHL owners made a proposal of 47 percent but the Players Union feels that there should be a limited change in share growth.[56] As of December 10, 2012, the NHL has cancelled all 526 regular-season games scheduled up to December 30, 2012, as well as the 2013 NHL Winter Classic and the 2013 NHL All-Star Weeken.