In fact, as of today, there will be a zero-game season.
The NHL announced a new wave of game cancelations as all games through November have now been axed. Executive Director of the NHLPA, Donald Fehr, said the news comes as no surprise as the two sides are still far off from a deal.
"By presenting a proposal to the NHLPA that contemplated a fair division of revenues and was responsive to Player concerns regarding the value of their contracts, we had hoped to be able to forge a long-term collective bargaining agreement that would have preserved an 82-game regular season for our fans. Unfortunately, that did not occur," he said.
Fehr said he hasn't been surprised by the developments of the last few weeks, saying it has followed a similar script to how lockouts have played out in other sports.
"Somebody has to be willing to talk about things seriously," Fehr said Friday night. "So far, the league's position is essentially, 'We've got billions of dollars from the players last time, we've had nothing but record revenues ever since, let's try and get another billion or two.' That's hard. That's really hard to do."
The league's next big decision will likely include the marquee event — The Winter Classic.
As of now, a deal doesn't seem imminent and if a deal is reached, a shortened season will be in the cards. A shortened season can be looked at as both a positive and negative, however.
Done right, a shortened season could be very beneficial for the league. The AHL is a prime example of how it could work.
Last year, the AHL trimmed it's schedule down from 80 to 76 games, and increased the length of the schedule to allow for more time between games to help NHL prospects improve their conditioning and skill in training. What it did was allow for more games on weekends and less during the week, which usually didn't sell many tickets anyway.
More games on weekends allowed for bigger crowds every game, and an increased revenue for the league — as a lot of travel was cut out.
An NHL season being shortened, however, could actually turn bad for the sport (but good for player and owner's pockets).
The NBA crammed 66 games into its schedule after last year's lockout, really tiring players and upping travel costs. In the NHL, tired players could lead to sloppy and careless hockey, meaning game quality would heavily decrease. Plus, it's a notion that really isn't realistic at the NHL level.
The scheduling will be an issue if/when a deal ever is reached by the two sides, but going the NBA's route from a season ago may ultimately be the worst thing for the league moving forward.
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