The NHL announced Wednesday it has cancelled all pre-season games through Sept. 30, marking the first on-ice casualties of its four-day-old lockout.
The league also said the 2012 Kraft Hockeyville game scheduled for Oct. 2 in Belleville, Ont., between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Columbus Blue Jackets has been postponed until next year. However, festivities in the winning community of Stirling-Rawdon, Ont., are expected to go ahead as planned beginning Sept. 30.
Pre-season games had been scheduled to begin this Sunday with the Ottawa Senators visiting the Montreal Canadiens.
Wednesday's move lopped 61 games off the NHL's pre-season schedule, which runs through Oct. 7. The regular season is slated to begin on Thursday, Oct. 11.
The lockout entered its fourth day on Wednesday with no formal meetings scheduled between the NHL and the players' union as the sides pursue a new collective bargaining agreement to replace the one that expired on Sept. 15.
Earlier Wednesday, the NHL told employees that they will be reduced to a four-day work week starting Oct. 1, effectively cutting their salaries by 20 per cent.
Star forwards Alex Ovechkin and Jason Spezza became the latest players to sign with European clubs for the duration of the lockout, agreeing to deals with, respectively, Dynamo Moscow of the KHL and Rapperswil-Jona of the Swiss A League.