The next NHL season will not start overseas in the fall of 2012, according to a report at the Globe and Mail. The season-opening overseas games have been canceled because of uncertainty over the league's collective bargaining agreement. The NHL has played overseas games to start their season every year since 2007. The current CBA is set to expire on September 15.
Gary Bettman is telling teams to operate under the rules of the current CBA and claims that the NHL offseason will be 'business as usual', but the decision to cancel the overseas games indicates that there is some uncertainty over the CBA, even though no one is panicking yet. There have not yet been any formal talks between the owners and the NHL Players' Association, and the players want to wait until the end of the season to talk.
"We are continuing to meet with players across the league as part of our preparations for the upcoming CBA negotiations. At our request, the NHL recently supplied the NHLPA with some initial financial information that we are currently reviewing. While we do not have a set date for formal negotiations to begin, we expect negotiations will begin when we have players available to participate in bargaining sessions."
The league had a rocky road back to relevance following the 2004-05 lockout, and would undo a lot of the good they've done since then if they were unable to avoid another lockout.