The NHL on Wednesday opened negotiations in what may be a long summer of labor talks.
The league officially notified the NHL Players Association (NHLPA) in writing that it would like to terminate the current collective bargaining agreement.
Had either side not notified the other of a desire to terminate the current contract within 120 days of the Sept. 15, 2012, expiration date, the deal would have rolled over into another season.
The NHLPA could have also provided the league with notice but chose not to, apparently accepting the status quo.
"As you know, this is no surprise," NHLPA leader Donald Fehr said in an e-mail to players and agents Wednesday, according to Sports Business Daily.
Unlike the NFL or NBA, the NHL has not made its wishes - either financial or otherwise - clear heading into the expiration of the deal. The sides were supposed to begin informal negotiations during January's all-star break but did not.
The NHL has claimed, through commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly, that it is ready to begin negotiations at any time.
Clearly, the NHL's owners would like to see more financial concessions from the players, who earn 57 percent of the league's revenue. The NFL and NBA both rolled their players back to somewhere near 50 percent with their respective lockouts before these last seasons. The NFL started its season on time. The NBA shortened its schedule.
The NHL is set to surpass $3 billion in revenue for the first time this season. Though that is just a fraction of what the other three major sports leagues earn per season, it would be the league's seventh straight season of record revenue.