NHL 2012-13 Predictions: 5 Things Fans Will Miss Because of Lockout

Darin PikeContributor ISeptember 23, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 13:  Commissioner Gary Bettman of the National Hockey League speaks to the media at Crowne Plaza Times Square on September 13, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

NHL fans should be focused on the free agency adds their teams made and how their roster looks headed into 2012/13 preseason games.

Instead of coming to an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement, the league and players have made unsubstantiated claims and drug their feet in labor negotiations.

The third work stoppage under Gary Bettman could very well lead to his second cancelled season. Unlike football and basketball to a lesser extent, hockey players have options in Europe that will keep them from caving on demands.

Here are five things that would have happened during the upcoming season, but fans won't get to see them, as the NHL will cancel their season instead of reaching a labor agreement. 


5. NHL Players are absorbed overseas, work on forming World Hockey League

Unlike the primary American spectator sports, Hockey is wildly popular in many affluent countries. The game is a passion in Canada and northern Europe in particular.

The NHL is gambling that players who are largely from outside the U.S. won't take their sticks and go home.

They are wrong.

This gamble could lead to Canadians tiring of missing out on their national sport and the loss of teams to more populated cities in the United States. If players can survive a year with other clubs, a few shrewd investors could put together a true international league that could compete with, and possibly replace, the NHL.


4. Sidney Crosby leads the NHL with 65 goals

I'm not sure which is more bold—asserting Crosby will be healthy for an entire season or that he'll set a new personal-best for goals scored. But I'm going big and stating both would have happened if Bettman's reign as commissioner didn't undermine the NHL as a whole.

Crosby's current season scoring record is 120 points (36 goals with 84 assists) in his second season. He had 51 goals in the 2009/10 season.

The Pittsburgh Penguins were brutal on opposing goalies when Crosby returned last season. They averaged 4.5 goals per game down the stretch and would have made a run at the Stanley Cup if not for their own issues in the net.


3. Cory Schneider takes over at goalie and posts a 1.5 GAA

The Vancouver Canucks were in a difficult spot in the playoffs last season. They had a relative whippersnapper on their bench that was playing better than their high-priced veteran, Roberto Luongo.

They were hesitant to make the change but did so after losing the first two playoff games to the L.A. Kings by scores of 4-2. 

When the Canucks next take the ice, it will be with Schneider in the net and he'll reward their decision.


2. NHL fans show their appreciation of a saved season with record attendance

If the league were to settle their CBA dispute with the players, fans would be giddy with appreciation. The thought of missing games is just as disturbing to die-hard hockey fans as it was to fans of the NFL over the summer.

Preseason games have already been cancelled and the start of the season, scheduled to start in less than a month, is certainly in jeopardy.

If both sides cave a bit, fans will show appreciation and show up to games in droves. Granted, most of the arenas are already at or near capacity, but the league could still see a bump in attendance.

More important, it will lead fans that are unable to purchase tickets to watch televised games. The NHL is still early in their contract with NBC, but there is plenty of room in that contract if attendance booms.


1. New Jersey Devils beat the Detroit Red Wings in seven games to claim the Stanley Cup

Certainly the mention of the Red Wings making big strides and reaching the Stanley Cup Finals will raise an eyebrow or two with Blues and Kings fans. Picking the Devils to make a repeat trip equally may seem like a cop-out.

As much as I think it will be the Flyers in the championship, that could just be wishful thinking.

Regardless of the teams, the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals would have been an epic battle with four of the seven games decided in overtime. A pivotal Game 5 was claimed by the Devils with three lead-changes. 

But in Game 7, the Devils flashed a better offense to claim the Cup. Too bad there was nobody there to see it.