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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 camp.
Alex Lťtourneau: There will be hockey this year. I canít 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 canít go on a full season for the simple fact they canít afford to keep NHL fans locked out. Iím a hockey hellhound but Iíve 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 thatís winding down but still on their minds. There are other outlets for hockey fans. Thatís 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 canít 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.
- Writers Weigh In: Picking Sides posted by B. La Rose