It has been a few weeks since we had to think about more NHL games getting canceled; that peace of mind was the one benefit of the NHL taking out a bigger chunk of the schedule -- the whole month of November -- at one time.
As Thanksgiving draws closer, though, obviously so does Dec. 1. Right now, that is the first potential start date for a season, but not for much longer.
Chris Botta of Sports Business Journal reports the next round of cancellations is nearing, and pretty soon those cancellations will get much, much bigger.
@ChrisBottaNHL Source: if there isn't a deal in place in next 7days, NHL will cancel games thru Dec. 15. Next cancellation could be the season.
That's exciting, right? There aren't even any talks scheduled, and the NHL is less than a week away from chopping more games from the calendar. At this rate, it doesn't seem like Dec. 1 is a realistic starting point. The good thing, though, is that a deal can be struck seemingly out of thin air, so you can't give up all hope until the cancellations are actually announced.
It's the second part of Botta's tweet, though, that should be eyebrow-raising. The next cut after the first part of December could be the entire season? Seems a bit extreme if you ask me.
Remember the last time we went through a lockout, the season wasn't called off until mid-February. Granted, that does seem a bit late and it wouldn't surprise me if the deadline weren't pushed up this time around. But two months earlier? Doesn't seem necessary.
There's another aspect to why this information could be getting out there. Perhaps the NHL wants this to be known. Some, like the New York Post's Larry Brooks, have argued that a drop-dead date would serve these negotiations well. Talk about the ultimate spur to encourage a deal. The flip side, though, is it's a very dangerous game.
Fact is, and we all know this, the NHL just can't cancel the entire season. It would be absolutely crippling to the sport, especially when the issues seem trivial compared to the last lockout. As Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com writes, the damage this time will be permanent. No other league in North American sports history has called off an entire season because of a labor stoppage, and the NHL could potentially do it twice in one decade? You think the NHL is irrelevant now in a lot of sporting circles (ahem, ESPN), just wait for it then.
In a way, it's nice to have some deadlines to work with. I know if it weren't for deadlines, I would have never finished a book report in elementary school. But there's something a little discomforting about viewing a clock on your own mortality -- in this case, the NHL season's life.
All this quibbling over the Make Whole and how the first year of the new CBA will look is reportedly a few weeks away from being a moot point. What an utter waste.