Is NBC playing role in NHL labour talks?

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman speaks to the media in New York, N.Y., Oct. 24, 2012. (ANDREW...

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman speaks to the media in New York, N.Y., Oct. 24, 2012. (ANDREW KELLY/Reuters)

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:24 PM ET

There could be another deadline approaching for the NHL.

After cancelling the Winter Classic, the league may have returned to the bargaining table Tuesday to try and help save its precious airtime on the NBC Sports Network.

The first games are scheduled to be shown in the U.S. on Nov. 23 and the NHL may be trying to get a deal in place with the players' union to keep one of its biggest backers on board before the whole season goes up in smoke.

"Everybody thinks (NHL commissioner) Gary (Bettman) has a date circled on his calendar when he needs the NHL back playing games," said a league insider Tuesday.

"We knew the Winter Classic was going to be an early casualty and it is. The question now is: How much sway does NBC have? Their (first) game is Nov. 23 and does that date have any significance to the NHL.

"Are they re-engaging now so the season starts by Nov. 23? That's possible if they get a deal in the next week, so we're going to see. If the talks blow up again, and they're not in the room long, then Nov. 23 isn't significant."

NBC is scheduled to pay the league $200 million for the television rights, but the network's deal is extended a year if the NHL does cancel the season.


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