NHL Lockout: Should We Start to Worry About Next Season Too?

Nicholas GossCorrespondent INovember 14, 2012

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman
NHL commissioner Gary BettmanBruce Bennett/Getty Images

The NHL lockout is almost two months long, and with the two sides having no plans to work out their differences in the near future (via Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com), optimism isn't very high right now.

Still nothing scheduled in terms of resuming bargaining at this point

— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) November 12, 2012

However, fans should not be worried that more than one season will be lost because of this work stoppage.

When you look at how close the two sides are on many of the important issues, it's almost impossible to imagine that they would need more than a year to close the gap that divides them.

Even if you don't think the leaders on both sides have made many smart decisions throughout this process, none of them are foolish enough to think that the NHL could survive another lost season and still maintain the current amount of revenue and popularity that the league enjoys.

It's going to take some time for the league to recover from this lockout, and if another season is lost, the league will suffer unbelievable harm and ruin progress that will take years to make up. The owners and players will not let that happen.

A lot of owners, such as the ones in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, have spent a lot of money investing in players and other things needed for a Stanley Cup run. They will not want to give up more than a season due to a lockout and risk losing a large part of the $3 billion-plus of revenue that the league is currently able to generate.

Losing another season is not in the best interests of the owners, from both a business and competitive standpoint. Fans and sponsors will not give the NHL the same amount of support if another year is lost because of a lockout.

Major sponsors will likely be very hesitant to sign massive marketing deals with a league that has no problem shutting itself down to take advantage of the players in labor negotiations.

It would also be surprising if the players allowed this season to be cancelled, and there's zero chance that they would allow a lockout to destroy two seasons.

They love the game too much, and would never agree as a union to risk two full years of salary just to beat the owners in labor negotiations. Veteran players with very few seasons remaining in their NHL careers would also push for a deal to be made well before multiple seasons could be lost.

If for some reason, the league and its players cannot save the 2012-13 season, it's entirely possible that the NHLPA could start a fierce battle over the existence of the salary cap system. In the unlikely event that this actually happens, it's still difficult to see two full seasons being lost.

The NHL has made plenty of bad decisions over the last decade, but even a commissioner such as Gary Bettman would not allow his sport to lose three seasons because of lockouts in less than a decade.

Fans should not worry about more than one year being lost because of the current lockout, and even though there aren't many reasons to believe the 2012-13 season will begin soon, the two sides are close enough where a deal could be made in the next few weeks with an early-December start date for the new season.