Gary Bettman and the NHL lockout are about to obliterate development plans for several teams this year. It's nothing new to NHL clubs by now, as this seems all too familiar.
Some teams just made their long-awaited big signings, while others were looking to ride momentum all the way to another run in 2012. Either way, this year's labor dispute isn't favorable to anybody, but is especially crippling to these select few.
New York Rangers
For this Original Six franchise, 2012 was shaping up to be the ultimate season. They were coming off a 2011 season where they rested at the top spot in the Eastern Conference for most of the year. After a playoff run that ended with a loss to their rival New Jersey Devils, just two wins shy of their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance since 1994, general manger Glen Sather knew what he had to do.
After months of speculation, the Rangers finally made the move the hockey world was waiting for. Last July, the brought aboard Columbus forward Rick Nash, and shipped out Artem Anisimov, Brandon Dubinsky, Tim Erixon, and a first-round draft pick. The stage was set for another Cup run in 2012.
After addressing their largest deficiency from 2011—scoring—the Rangers could have possibly been the most well-rounded team in the NHL, with an already sturdy defense—they employed two players who finished top-10 in blocked shots—and Henrik Lundqvist in net, Madison Square Garden was shaping up to be the center of the hockey world once again this season.
2012 was set up to be a historic year for the Rangers. Now, 2012 will not likely be historic, and it may not likely be a season, either. John Tortorella's club has Gary Bettman to blame.
For the Wild, who fell well short of reaching the playoffs in 2011, the future success was contingent upon this season.
This past offseason, Minnesota opened up their wallets, shelling out separate 13-year contracts to winger Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter, totaling close to $200 million. 2012 would be the season to set the tone for the Wild. They also inked top pick Mikael Granlund to a three-year deal this offseason, with high hopes for 2012 and beyond.
After watching the sort of run the Los Angeles Kings went on last summer, they knew all they had to do was get over the playoff hump. After that, anything could happen.
In 2012 though, it's likely nothing will happen. Their new star-studded lineup will have to wait another year to be unveiled, as will their new-found playoff hopes.
Los Angeles Kings
The L.A. Kings had a miraculous run in 2011, and this year was shaping up to be just as exciting for the defending Cup champions.
As we found out during last year's playoffs, riding momentum is integral to a team's success, and the Kings sure had it. There's reason to believe that the Kings' championship finish would catapult them to the top in 2012, knowing just how lethal their confidence could be.
Goaltender Jonathan Quick proved just how valuable he is to L.A. by winning the Conn Smythe trophy last summer, and was locked up with a 10-year extension following the Kings' incredible run.
With much of the same core returning for a season in which they would be defending a title, this year was set to be the most highly anticipated one ever for Kings fans.
Now, there's not much to be excited for. And for the second time in less than a decade, hockey fans will likely have to suffer through another drought. One that these teams may not emerge from