NHL Lockout 2012: When Fans Should Expect Work Stoppage to End
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The million-dollar question is when will this lockout end, but it's hard to predict that at this stage of the CBA talks.
Let's look at the four most likely start dates for the 2012-13 season.
Halloween (October 31)
Do you think the NHL season will start before January 1?
Starting the season on Halloween would be a fun way to get the year underway. There is only one game scheduled for that night, and it's a good matchup between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals on the NBC Sports Network.
The only worry is that a lot of people will likely be trick-or-treating with their kids when the game begins at 7:00 p.m. ET, which isn't an ideal scenario if you want to maximize opening night television ratings.
It gives the owners and players more than two months to make a deal, and gets the season underway before the new year, which is important.
Since the season starting on time, or any day in October is so unlikely right now, the best-case scenario for hockey fans might be Black Friday.
New Year's Day would be a late start date, but since it's the day of the 2013 Winter Classic, it would certainly start the year with a bang.
Since the league can cancel the event just hours before the puck drops at the University of Michigan, the two sides can work hard to reach a new CBA, and not worry about missing a December deadline so the Winter Classic can be played.
The owners of the two Original Six teams participating in the game, the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs, are going to want some of the enormous revenue that this game is sure to produce.
The last shortened NHL season came as a result of the 1995 lockout, when the season started on January 11. As we approach February, a canceled season could become a reality.
The NBA lockout in 1999 forced that season to begin on February 7, which is very late. It would be difficult for the NHL to start that late and get 50 or so games in before the playoffs normally begin in the middle of April.
However, the NHL could copy the NBA and make the playoffs end later in June just for this season to help accommodate a shortened schedule.
The latest possible start date I could see happening is February 9, which is Hockey Day in Canada. That would be a great day to for the league to open its doors again.
Nicholas Goss is an NHL lead writer at Bleacher Report. He was also the organization's on-site reporter for the 2011 Stanley Cup Final in Boston. Follow him on Twitter.
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