Earlier this week, the NHL submitted a proposal to the Players' Association that seemed like a fantastic deal and would allow the season to play a full 82-game schedule. The players weren’t going to accept the deal without a counter-proposal, so nothing is shocking there.
After the original proposal was submitted, the league made it known that there was a 10-day window to get the deal done and save all 82 games. The deadline for a new bargaining agreement based off of this offer would be October 25th and a start date for the regular season would be November 2nd.
The fact that the league cancelled games through November 1st means the full season is still a very real possibility. Cancelling the existing schedule through the beginning of the month would have happened even if the deal was immediately signed this week.
If the NHLPA and Donald Fehr can negotiate the remaining details quickly, then the season can be saved. This was a calculated move by the NHL in order to throw the blame on the players if no deal can be made.
In a worst-case scenario of the players taking a hit in the media and holding out, there is still hope for a season to be played.
The league and owners do not want to miss the Winter Classic. That is one of the most notable events in the regular season and one of the largest money-makers for the league. This is the same way the NBA felt about the Christmas Day lineup of games, which helped get the deal done so it wouldn’t miss the revenue from the games.
This means a shortened season could be in play if a new deal can be finished probably somewhere near Christmas and possibly have the season kicked off on New Year’s Day.
With the completion of the deal resting in the hands of the NHLPA and its counter-proposal, labor peace is still a long way out. If the players drag this out past the Winter Classic, then chances are the season will be gone.
Many have heard rumbling from some owners about wanting to get back to playing and making money, which will help fuel getting this deal done sooner than later. Some owners may not be totally on board, but with a majority wanting to keep the revenue stream up, that gives this season a chance.
With the owners willing to make a deal and two major deadlines on the horizon, the hope for the season still remains very high. If all goes well for hockey fans, this lockout will be nothing but a footnote in history as everyone gets excited to see their favorite teams take the ice.