Solve the following analogy: Lord Voldemort is to Harry Potter as __________ is to the NHL.
If you guessed “lockout” then you are correct. If you guessed “Gary Bettman” you get extra credit.
From the perspective of hockey fans the owners are the villains in the CBA negotiations. They are the ones with the power to lock the players out, they are the ones with the authority to cancel the entire regular season. Yes it seems the two sides are currently on very different terms, but if they can somehow hammer out something resembling an agreement then the puck will drop according to plan. Looking back on the last labor dispute which ultimately resulted in the commissioner’s public address officially cancelling the 2004-2005 season, we can find something encouraging. The lockout began on September 16, 2004 (when the CBA expired), but the season was not officially cancelled until February 16, 2005. According to my calculations, that is five extra months that the two sides had to sign a new labor contract and begin an abbreviated hockey season. Therefore hope exists that a truncated schedule could be released even if there is no cooperation prior to the expiration of the CBA this year on September 15.
In fact, I think a shortened season may be a blessing in disguise for the Kings. The Stanley Cup Playoffs can be very grueling, especially for the team who makes it all the way to the Finals. Players are bruised and battered due to the intense physical nature of the game. But winning the holy grail of hockey is well worth it as nagging injuries sustained during the postseason are revealed after the playoffs are over. In the event of a lockout-shortened season, players will have more time to recuperate – particularly Jonathan Quick who had “minor” surgery to remove disc fragments in his back. Surgery is surgery and the extra time would benefit the 2012 Conn Smythe Trophy winner. The Kings will return with the exact same lineup from last year and, coupled with a potentially extended offseason, there is optimism that they could be the first team to repeat as champions since the Detroit Red Wings did so in 1997-1998.
If the season were to start on time, it would be the shortest summer for the Kings because they played until mid-June when the majority of teams were finished in April. Perhaps this short time period between the last game of the finals and the start of training camp catches former cup champs off guard resulting in the “Stanley Cup Hangover.” As a recent college graduate, I am well versed in how too much to drink the night before can limit your ability to be productive the following day, and surely consuming copious amounts of alcohol from the Stanley Cup might affect on ice performance.
The labor discussions are set to resume today in Toronto. Hopefully some kind of progress is made to save the 2012-2013 NHL season.