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The lockout has now entered its third month and it doesn’t appear that there
will be any CBA talks this week.  Even with that said, expect talks to
resume sooner than later as they have all throughout this process so far. 
Right now, the biggest question among fans is whether a deal will be struck in
time to have a partial 2012-13 NHL season.  Our writers offer up their
predictions on when the puck will be dropped.

Will we see NHL hockey this season?  If so, when?  If not, when will the
season be cancelled?  What will be the primary reason that the sides can’t reach
a deal?

Matt Dilworth: With my Magic 8-ball stuck on "Ask again
later," I honestly have no idea if we will get to watch any NHL hockey this
year. Recent talks have me a bit optimistic that we’ll see hockey, but I’ve
fallen for this ruse a few times already this year.

I would have to think that if no agreement is in place before January, then
the two sides will bunker down and the entire season will be written off.
Without being privy to the closed door discussions, my limited understanding is
that defining what constitutes revenue, splitting said revenue, and honouring
past contracts will be the sticking points. If these issues are currently being
dealt with, and progress is in fact being made, I’m hopeful that we’ll see NHL
hockey in December.

Brian La Rose: To me, it comes down to this – surely the two sides
realize this isn’t worth entirely losing a season over.  As much as the NHL
can proclaim that it has the best fans of the world (when your league is more
gate driven than any of the other ‘Big-4,’ they better be saying that), they
must be smart enough to realize that depriving those same fans of two full
seasons in less than a decade isn’t exactly going to help them grow the league. 
As for the NHLPA, losing a season fighting over a couple of percentage points in
terms of how to slide HRR down to 50-50 will cost its membership more than any
potential percentage point gain.  Common sense is often the best way to go
and this is no exception.  I have to believe they’ll realize that before
the whole season is killed.

For the past few years, January 1st has been a significant date for the NHL
with the widely successful Winter Classic.  Even though the outdoor game
isn’t going to take place this season, that date will still be significant this
year as that will mark the kickoff of the 2012-13 campaign, a 56 game season
that will have a schedule heavily based on in-conference play.  That would
allow for another month of talks…or two more weeks of PR stunts followed by
two weeks of negotiations that get the deal done and time for a small training

Alex Létourneau: There will be hockey this year. I can’t see another
full season lost. What seems to be the main issue is revenue sharing and player
salaries. Things like contract length, free agency, unrestricted free agency
will take a back seat. This is a money driven issue and it will be solved on
that front.

I think Donald Fehr miscalculated Gary Bettman. Bettman is not Bud Selig.
This can’t go on a full season for the simple fact they can’t afford to keep NHL
fans locked out. I’m a hockey hellhound but I’ve found solace in NFL football
and Premier League football. Can you imagine the galaxy of U.S.-based hockey
fans? They have the NFL, NBA and NASCAR. Not to mention College Football and an
MLS season that’s winding down but still on their minds. There are other outlets
for hockey fans. That’s not even taking into account hockey fans across the
Atlantic who can now see big names in their cities at a reasonable hour.

This disaster will be resolved but I just can’t see Gary Bettman and the
owners walking away with their tails between their legs at the end of the day.

Norm Szcyrek: Although the league and the NHLPA have
been rumoured to be working on the CBA diligently the past few days, I am
pessimistic that there will be a shortened NHL season this time. The owners are
controlling/dictating the direction of the discussions for the most part, and
they are likely to follow the playbook that worked so well for them last time
they cancelled a season. I hope I am wrong.