Sunday, December 30, 2012

Let's Get It Started

I know they're just talking. But they're talking. They were quiet for a while. And now they're talking. And time is running out. It's been pretty much layed out that the season can't start any later than January 19, which is 3 weeks from yesterday. And I read that the drop-dead plan is to have 1 week of training camp that follows 1 week of legal mumbo-jumbo and paperwork. That leaves us with 6 days, including today (in which they will be talking or texting or skyping or something), to get a deal done so the other necessary stuff can get started. There isn't a whole lot of time.

Personally, I don't think 1 week of training camp is enough. Some players are playing in Europe, some in the AHL, and some are renting ice time at local rinks around North America. Some aren't doing any of that. One week isn't enough time to back into shape when players have been at different activity levels since this stupid lockout started. Some players played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season, while others didn't. That might matter too.

The owners obviously want to get the games going as quickly as possible so they can make money. They don't make money during training camp, so keep that as short as possible. But, since everyone needs to do a little giving, here's something the owners can offer the players.

  1. Say that, at this point, no matter when a deal is done (assuming one is before the cutoff date of next Saturday), the season starts on January 19.

    I guess we can go as far as saying that all 30 teams play on that day, and if they're smart, stagger games throughout the day. Maybe even start with a pseudo-Hockey Day In Canada and Hockey Day In America. Get the CBC involved in Canada (and TSN if CBC would allow another national network to broadcast on a Saturday). Get NBC SportsNetwork involved in the US for the afternoon games, and of course, NHL Network US showing Hockey Night In Canada.
  2. Now, for the more logistical fun...Say that the sooner the players and owners agree that a deal is made, the longer training camp can be. Let's say they have the handshake agreement tomorrow (Monday).

    In parallel, have the lawyers working this out starting on Tuesday. Have the teams open facilities conditionally for players to gather (but no ice time yet), start pre-camp physicals, and work out the other logistics of officially starting training camp once the lawyers are done (sticking to that one week), one week from Tuesday.

    If the agreement is made on Tuesday, then everything is pushed back by one day, and training camp is one day shorter. So, for every day that they can't get a deal done this week, it's one less day for training camp, with the breaking point of next Saturday, not leaving enough reasonable time to get anything started by the real drop-dead date of January 19.
It puts a little pressure on the players, knowing that the sooner they can close the deal, the more time they have in training camp before the season starts. But if it works, it makes things slightly more legitimate by having a longer training camp. Honestly, I don't know what's going to happen here. Knowing the parties involved, I wouldn't be surprised at all if they just can't make it work and we lose the entire season. But I'm still hopeful that common sense will invade the process (50% of something is better than 100% of nothing) and a deal will be made this week, and we'll have NHL Hockey on January 19.

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