NHL Schedule: Not Having Shortened Season Ready Is League's Latest Folly

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistJanuary 8, 2013

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 05:  Following the NHL Board of Governors meeting, Commissioner Gary Bettman of the National Hockey League addresses the media at the Westin Times Square on December 5, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The NHL finally got back in the good graces of its diehard fans by agreeing to a deal to save another season from getting wiped out entirely. Instead of capitalizing on those positive vibes, however, the league has endured another blunder by failing to release a new schedule.

Elliotte Friedman of Hockey Night in Canada reports the schedule is likely to contain 48 games and begin on Saturday, Jan. 19. The problem is that's been the expectation for quite some time, at least since it became clear a full season wasn't possible, so why wasn't a schedule prepared?

Furthermore, the schedule isn't likely to get released until Thursday or Friday, according to Damian Cristodero of the Tampa Bay Times. That's five or six days of missed opportunities for the NHL, as the initial post-lockout enthusiasm begins to fade.

It's amazing the league wasn't prepared for this situation. At the very least, it should have been ready with a basic outline that could be tweaked if necessary, allowing teams to get the schedule out within a day—at most.

Instead, the unfortunate, extended delay makes it seem like the schedule makers were basically starting from square one. Fair or not, it furthers the belief that the two sides were worried more about the money than the actual games.

Once everybody got their fair share of the pie, they remembered hockey would actually have to get played in order to generate the revenue. So NHL fans are, as has become custom, left in the dark while the league works frantically to get the schedule ready.

Those who do follow the league closely continue to get a raw deal. The people in power have treated them terribly over the past decade, and this is just the latest example of the fans coming last in every aspect.

That's not how it should be, but loyal hockey fans have come to accept it. Their love of the game is too strong to let the league affect it. While it's certainly respectable, it also means the two sides will have no problem walking all over them in the future.

Normally, something like the release of a schedule would be an exercise in patience, but NHL fans have already shown more than enough of that in recent months. The league dropped the ball again, which simply isn't a surprise anymore.

It's just another day in North America's most dysfunctional major sports league.