If you ask NHL Players' Association representative for the Los Angeles Kings, Kevin Westgarth, he accepts the reality of a lockout.
After finishing another round of CBA meetings in New York Wednesday, Westgarth took to the media and was asked what he felt the No. 1 issue was with the players. Pat Leonard of the Daily News had the scoop.
Via Leonard's Blueshirts Blog:
“Generally, like the fans, we are concerned about – I think everyone has a little post-traumatic stress from last time,” Westgarth said, referring to the lockout and missed season of 2004-05, when the union lost the battle and eventually agreed to the salary cap in place today. “It is something (where) they locked us out last time. It’s foreseeable for them to lock us out again. So guys obviously want to play, but obviously we need to get the right deals together, as well.”
For NHL fans, reading that paragraph has to make you cringe. The sting of the 2004-05 season being lost due to a work stoppage is still prevalent and to have another would severely cripple a sport desperately trying to gain popularity and sustainable growth in the North American sports market.
September 15 is the date to mark on your calendars as the day the current CBA expires. That's roughly six weeks from now. Is that enough time to hammer out a plethora of issues which include capping the limit of free-agent contracts, free agency eligibility and entry level contracts?
To give some perspective, the NHL owners presented their offer July 13. Three weeks later to the date, the NHLPA has yet to make a counter-proposal, recently receiving 76,000 pages worth of financials to decipher that they have yet to finish.
Conservatively, to expect the 2012-13 NHL season to start on time would be a case of being foolishly optimistic. But will there be a lockout? Westgarth does present the possibility, but both sides know the gravity of potentially another season lost.