The NHL has said that a CBA needs to get approved by this Thursday if teams want to play 82 games this season. With time ticking away, is an 82 game schedule really even safe?
The NHL has cancelled nearly a month of games, the most recent casualties happening up to November 1st. The most recent CBA discussions last week feel flatter than a waffle on ACC ice at a Maple Leafs game. Depending on which side you're on, either the players were greedy and unreasonable for not agreeing ASAP to a 7% paycut and a 50/50 split with owners, or the owners aren't bargaining in good faith. Either way you slice it, it's not painting a pleasant picture.
The NHL has communicated to the NHLPA and, by proxy, the fans, that their last offer was of the take it or leave it kind. That's not very conducive to any sort of negotiations at all. The players offered to play through the CBA talks, and the league said no. The players offered not one, but three alternatives to the NHL's CBA proposal, and the league said no. At the same time, the league keeps saying "maybe" to an 82 game season. They've given a deadline of this Thursday to get a deal done for a full season.
At this point, with games cancelled through November 1st, why bother? Seriously -- what could the NHL possibly hope to achieve by shoving extra games into an already tight schedule? Players' chances of injury are going to go up exponentially, especially with the number of back-to-backs that will wind up happening as a consequence. At the very least, overall team performance will probably drop.
The only purpose that this would serve is for the teams' owners, the ones allowing the lockout to drag on with their "accept our offer or BE GONE" kind of stance, to recoup lost money. Is it a good business idea? Absolutely not. It will probably recoup the money, sure. But it will do so at the risk of two things. One, it will risk being an inferior product by the end of the season due to exhaustion and injury. Two, the superstar players eating up most of the cap space -- whatever that might be now -- will run an even higher risk of injury.
It's better for the league to just slow down, work with the NHLPA, and get something positive for both sides worked out. By this point in time, if you had to ask the average hockey fan if he'd mind missing ten games or would he rather have his team's best player out for the season, I think he'd choose option A.