There will definitely be an NHL season this year, that much we know for certain. What we don’t know as of this very moment, however, is what that season will look like.
Even though there were initially some rumors floating around that fans may get a 50-game regular season in 2013, all signs are now pointing towards 48 games being a far more realistic benchmark.
The NHL’s Deputy Commissioner, Bill Daly, seemed to echo that sentiment.
"I think 48 is most likely at this point, unless the players can expedite their ratification process,'' he wrote to The Associated Press (via Sports Illustrated) on Monday.
For what it’s worth, the NHL players’ association is instructing its members to be ready to roll by Jan. 19. Will everything actually be signed, sealed and delivered by that point? Who knows. A sports league that came within five days of canceling the year altogether before ultimately agreeing to a 10-year deal doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.
It’s worth noting: the NBA and NFL came back extremely strong following their respective lockouts. (In terms of fan excitement; actual play suffered greatly.) There has been very little buzz surrounding the looming hockey season, though. Maybe fans will flock back once the puck drops – or maybe they’re finally tired of the way the NHL does its business.
How America’s biggest and best hockey league bounces back from this latest embarrassment is definitely something to keep an eye on.
(Kudos Sports Illustrated)