You heard it in every Buffalo Sabres fans household this year when the NHL released the 2012-2013 schedule. It was a sigh of relief – the team wasn’t going to be subject to a league high back to back games this year. Ted Black came out and said, we redid the way we scheduled things in the hopes of helping ourselves out in the standings. Smart move for a team that is desperate to win at all costs. With the way this team likes to use Ryan Miller – he was primed to play more games this year with more time off between starts.
With the loss of two weeks of the regular season and probably more to come, many fans are sitting and waiting to see what the NHL can put together to salvage the 2012-2013 season. The goal is obviously to make the most money possible, so an 82 game schedule is the target goal, but the longer the NHL locks out, the less likely a full season can be played. You can still get a full season of hockey in – but a deal will have to be in place prior to the next round of cancellations – or every team will feel the travel pinch, and back to back will be a norm for every team. There goes our hope of having fresh legs once April rolls around. Then again, if everyone plays the back to backs and crunches an 82 game schedule in – the playing feild will be level right? I have no hope that an NHL season can be saved.
Im not being pessimistic about the whole scenario – the NHL just likes to do things differently, and since the NFL and NBA both locked out, the NFL saved their season, and the NBA played a shortened one, the NHL is not going to be like everyone else, and whatever deal is put into place, isn’t going to work for one side in eight to ten years, one way or another, and we will be having this conversation once again. Core economic issues have been left off the table so far as negotiations have been on going, but at some point the sides have to get down to the nitty gritty and get a deal done. Ignoring the issues is not going to make them go away.
Both sides have issues they want to raise, its time to start trading concessions. Sitting in the Southeast division, the Winnipeg Jets are going to be a wild card in the negotiations. The league has already proposed one realignment possibility, and the NHLPA shot that down fast. It was probably a preemptive stirke of things to come, as the players association wanted the league to realize they were not going to sit back and take whatever the league threw at them, but players and owners want the Winnipeg Jets out of the Southeast – the travel is ridiculous. While this may seem like a card in the owners favor – it can have benefits to both sides. Realignment, player safety, training camp, game development, hockey related revenue – the checklist is fairly long as the sides sit at the table. We can only hope that some hockey is saved this year.