By most accounts, we’re in the home stretch on the lockout for the 2012-13 National Hockey League season. To summarize what I’ve heard and read, it appears that three endgames could be in play:
1.WE HAVE A DEAL: The NHL owners and the NHL Players Association agree on a new labor deal, and games finally get underway. And there would be much rejoicing amongst the diehard hockey fans.
2. THE PLAYERS PUT THEIR FOOT DOWN: The NHLPA either decertifies or issues a “letter of disclaimer”. The former head of the National Labor Relations Board describes the two tactics thusly:
“The differences between “disclaiming interest” and “decertification” are this: In disclaiming interest, the union would walk away from the players and dissolve. In decertification, employees (in this case, the players) want a union to no longer represent them.”
Either of these are looked at as variations on the NHLPA’s “nuclear option” and would probably trigger a quick cancellation of the season by the owners and anti-trust civil actions by individual players against the league.
3.THE OWNERS PUT THEIR FOOT DOWN: With the lockout-shortened season of 1994-95 as a guide, the NHL apparently is of the opinion that 48 games are needed for the season to have any legitimacy. Those more savvy with NHL scheduling than I suggest that a deal would need to be struck no later than the 11th or 12th of January 2013 to squeeze in 48 games per team – again, using 1994-95 as a model. If endgames 1 or 2 don’t happen by mid-January, expect the league to say that they can’t play 48 games and cancel the remaining games in the 2012-13 season.
Regardless of the way it winds up, I’m guessing that we’ll learn the fate of the 2012-13 season sooner than later.