The NHL lockout entered its 94th day on Wednesday, and Bill Daly appeared on Sportsnet's Hockey Central and announced that the "point of no return" would be sometime in mid-January.
breaking news,Deputy Commish Bill Daly states the point of no return is in and around mid-january.Much earlier than 2004/05.#sportsnet— Daren Millard (@darenmillard) December 19, 2012
UPDATE Thursday Dec. 20
On heels of Daly narrowing drop dead date 2 mid Jan, NHL 2 hold conf call w/partners thurs. These events usually precede big announcements.— Daren Millard (@darenmillard) December 20, 2012
END OF UPDATE
During the radio segment, Daly also spoke with co-host and former NHL-er Nick Kypreos and Doug Maclean about the negotiation process and some of the sticking points.
The sticking points included length of contract and how willing sponsors would be to return once hockey action resumes.
Bill Daly agrees with @realkyper that it's a "crap shoot" that the fans and sponsors will return when a deal gets done.— Daren Millard (@darenmillard) December 19, 2012
These issues, primarily length of contract, have been characterized by Daly as the NHL's "hill to die on" (h/t to Fox Sports).
The league has been steadfast about capping contracts at five years because Gary Bettman feels that the players are being paid too much.
This stance has been viewed as hypocritical considering that owners have had no qualms about signing players to longer deals over the past few years.
What is important to take from Daly's statement is that the NHL is not going to wait as long as it did in 2004-05.
The league had considered playing a 28-game season before the league ultimately cancelled the entire 2004-05 season, according to Chris Johnston of The Canadian Press.
A start in mid-January would indicate that the league will require at least 48 games to have a full season.
The NHL was not the only group to address the media today on the radio as Donald Fehr also joined Sportsnet to talk about the lockout.
USA Today's Kevin Allen transcribed key quotes from the NHLPA director during his appearance on Sportsnet.
Should the players decide that they don't want to be in a union, there won't be a union, so it will be the end of that,
We'll be living in a different world. The owners will have to comply with the antitrust laws. Individual players will have whatever rights they have.
It has been speculated that the NHL could cancel more games this week, and it could coincide with NHLPA's announcement of the result of the disclaimer of interest vote on Friday.
If you want to see Sportsnet's coverage of Daly's appearance on Sportsnet, follow this link for complete details.
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Additionally, you can listen to the complete Donald Fehr interview with Sportsnet here.
With no meetings currently scheduled between the NHL and NHLPA, there is now some cause for concern that the 2012-13 season could be lost. The NHLPA could be headed toward decertification—a dissolving of the union.
There are pending lawsuits in court that will be addressed, and there is now a deadline to have a season.
With a drop-dead date out in the open, there may be some new sense of urgency to get a deal done. With the main issues between both sides being ancillary, it would not make sense for both sides to scrub the season.