On Monday, Mike Keenan warned 590 AM The Fan in Toronto of a possible 2012-13 season lost to the NHL lockout. With reports that the Winter Classic is on the verge of cancellation, the possibility of a lost season becomes increasingly likely.
San Jose Sharks fans are notoriously optimistic. It is a requirement when you follow a team that is one of only two to be in every Stanley Cup playoffs since 2003 (along with the Detroit Red Wings). You need more than one hand to count their losses, as the Sharks have fallen short every time.
But last season, they needed an entire foot to count how many wins they were away from what a team close to the cap should be able to attain. They appeared to be regressing, plus they lost more than they gained in the offseason.
Unless you count the coaching staff. But two defensive-oriented coaches cannot help the dreadful penalty kill while the lockout endures.
Make no mistake about it: the cancellation of the Winter Classic means no games will take place before Christmas.
Why would the league pay the same money for games it will not cash in as much on? And more and more players may commit to European teams, making the gap potentially bigger.
However, the threat of losing these players long-term could, at some point, enter into the head of NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. He could still realize that the best action is to honour the contracts teams have already handed out to players.
If that happens, it is unlikely teams will sign many additional players. The training camp that follows will be too short for experimentation and the resulting season too short for the usual "feeling-out" process for new players.
That can be good for the Sharks because most of their players are returning. But it also means they won't have time to give new combinations a chance to bring new results.
With that in mind, the following is a list of what the lines will be on whatever day opening night comes. Check out this link to the San Jose Sharks Examiner for a look at the back end.