NHL Hints Drop Dead Date: Why We Will See an NHL Season in 2013

Nicholas GossCorrespondent IDecember 19, 2012

Bill Daly
Bill DalyBruce Bennett/Getty Images

As hard as it is to be optimistic about the 2012-13 NHL season given the current state of the labor negotiations between the owners and the NHLPA, hockey fans should not fear that the league will lose another full season because of a lockout.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly spoke about a possible deadline to save the season on Sportsnet's Hockey Central @ Noon Wednesday afternoon. (To listen to the full interview, click here.)

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

When Daly was asked whether or not there will be hockey this year on HNIC Radio on Wednesday he responded, "Yes."

Hockey Night in Canada's Elliotte Friedman further explained Daly's response following the interview.

Context of Daly quote: Asked him if there would be a season. Told him he could only give a yes or no answer, that "I don't know"...

— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) December 19, 2012

was not allowed. He answered in the affirmative. There you go.

— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) December 19, 2012

After listening to what Daly said, it's easy to get excited about the possibility of there being some kind of season, whether it's 48 games like in the shortened 1994-95 season, or one that's 50-plus games.

Even though both sides continue to lose money as each day without a new agreement passes, a deal will probably be completed near the deadline to save the season, rather than anytime before the New Year.

The league and its players are likely going to drag this process out as long as possible to see if one side gets nervous and starts offering more concessions on the important issues.

What's incredibly frustrating for fans, or anyone associated with the NHL, is that the compromises or concessions which will ultimately get a deal done could easily be made in the next week if both sides returned to the bargaining table and negotiated.

Unfortunately, with no deadline pressuring both sides to make a deal for another few weeks, there is no incentive for either side to move toward the other on the key issues. This might not make sense to the average fan, but this is how these labor negotiations usually work.

It's hard to imagine that there are enough owners and players who are willing to cancel a season and shut down a multi-billion-dollar business that has grown a great amount since the last lockout when there is so much at stake for each side, both in the short-term and well into the future.

At some point, whether it's this month or in mid-January, we should expect the two sides to stop damaging their sport and reach an agreement. They are not foolish enough to ruin the 2012-13 season and send the NHL to a new low.