After months upon months of hopelessness on the NHL lockout front, things finally appear to be taking an optimistic turn.
Federal mediator Scot Beckenbaugh has been facilitating meetings in New York this week, and from the sound of it, things are definitely heading in the right direction. Just check out this stream of informed tweets from...
...TSN's Darren Dreger:
Well, if its a close as we're sensing it could be a very "good day" according to source.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) January 5, 2013
...The Boston Globe's Kevin Dupont:
Keep hearing/reading sense of energy/optimism around today's CBA talks in NYC. Agent: "teams are gearing up, feels like it will be a go."— Kevin Paul Dupont (@GlobeKPD) January 5, 2013
...Sports Business Journal's Chris Botta:
NHL deal edging closer. Hurdles left that will need some time, but you can plan on the season starting in 2 weeks. @sbjsbd— Chris Botta (@ChrisBottaNHL) January 5, 2013
...among many, many others.
A season that once appeared to be lost is now becoming a distinct, if not likely, possibility. This begs a salient question:
At this point, is the season even worth playing?
Pessimists will tell you no. They'll point to the amount of games lost, the risks of a condensed schedule, the asterisk that's sure to accompany whoever wins this year's Stanley Cup. They'll tell you that the season was tainted from the start, and even if games were to transpire, that stench would never be ameliorated.
They'll also have no idea what they're talking about.
The NBA, also embroiled in a lockout, canceled 16 games from each team's slate last year. Like the NHL would be forced to, they played on an absurdly condensed schedule. It was the predominant story from June until January. But guess what happened after that?
It went away.
Once the NBA players strapped on their shoes, the narrative shifted directly back onto the court. And when the Heat, the most despised team in the league, won the title, nobody was screaming, "Fraud!" There's no asterisk next to LeBron's championship because it came in a lockout-shortened season.
The NHL could, and would, take the lead of their sister sport and execute a successful season. They have the advantage of a one-year-old precedent on which to base their decisions.
They also have the benefit of deeper rosters than the NBA. More players equals fewer minutes. Fewer minutes equals less fatigue. Hockey is, admittedly, a much more rigorous endeavor than basketball, but it's a journey all these players are inured to. Their bodies are built to withstand hits on a nightly basis.
So don't focus on the pessimists who will try to detract from the potential season. Focus on the best news we've heard since the lockout began. Because if our sources are right, we'll be crowning a true, legitimate Stanley Cup champion come June.