A select group of players and owners continue to meet in New York, hopefully (unfortunately?) bringing an end to the lockout. While there is still some distance between the two sides, mostly on what appears to be contracting issues, the stream of information coming out of the meetings and the follow up press conferences have come to an end. In a reasonable world this would signal a coming end of the negotiations, but as we all know by now the world of the NHL is anything but reasonable.
This has not stopped some writers from speculating on Twitter about what a shortened season could look like and when it might begin. The tentative start date appears to be somewhere between Christmas Day and New Years Day, which is a fairly logical assumption assuming a deal can be completed soon. A start date between Christmas and New Years allows for a week for players to get to camp locations and both sides to approve the deal, and then a week to ten day training camp, with maybe a few days off for the Christmas break. Some people are balking at the idea of the league starting up on or so close to Christmas, and while I understand those concerns, they are not my biggest concern.
No, my biggest concern is the number of games being discussed. The current chatter is that the NHL season will have perhaps as many as 64 games, which allows for a normal season schedule with no cross conference games, or, more likely, 56 games, which allows teams to play every team in their conference 4 times each. If the NHL and the PA want to play a 56 game season that starts around Christmas and runs through to the proposed season end date of April 13 I have only one thing to say to them.
Aint No Body Got Time For That!
In a normal season teams play about four games every 11 days, or roughly one game ever 2.25 days. In an Olympic shortened season, that drops to a game a little more than once every two days. If the NHL tried to shoe horn in 64 games between December 26, 2012, and April 13, 2013 you'd be looking at every team playing more than 4 games every week (1 game every 1.675 days, or 4 games in 6.75 days). A 56 game schedule is somewhat better, but is still more than one game every two days (1 game every 1.92 days).
The thing is, I have no desire to make that sort of commitment to the NHL. None. See, we broke up. Oh sure, the NHL and the PA can get all Ross and Rachel on us and tell us it was just a break, but that's BS. We broke up. For the third time in 18 years. We broke up. Your side got petty, fighting over my money, and you left me all alone. Sometimes absence can make the heart grow fonder. Not this time.
After this last break up, we need to take things slowly. When the last lockout was over I bought the candles, and that Kenny G CD you like and, well, we rushed things. It seemed to turn out well, but now that's left a bitter taste in my mouth. I feel used and dirty.
This time, this time I want to take things slow. Dinner first. Maybe a movie. No sleep overs for a while, and we're surely not moving back in together any time soon. You need to wine me, and dine me, and show me you care about me. And, most importantly, you need to do that slowly. If I'm rushed this time I'm just going to dig in my heels and remember how quickly and easily you left me this time even though your own side warned you about fighting over a couple of percent when we all knew where this would end up anyway.
If you want me back, you need to look more closely at a 44 or 48 game schedule. 44 games is real easy, if's 6 games against your divisional opponents (24 games) and 2 against everyone else in your conference (20). Yeah, it's heavy on divisional games, but that should make for some exciting divisional races down the stretch just as I'm about ready to give you back the keys to my place. 48 is it a bit more difficult, but it does help out the Western Conference by allowing Sidney Crosby to play 12 games over there. A 48 game schedule would include 4 games against divisional foes (16 games), 2 games against the remaining conference teams, preferably in a home and home format (20 games) plus 12 games against the other conference. Good variety there. Most teams can knock off 4 or 5 of those cross conference games in a single road trip, so we can reduce travel expenses. It's slightly unbalanced, but let's be honest NHL, so are you. Best of all, a 48 game schedule has as many games per day if it starts on December 26 and ends on April 13 as a regular 82 game season would of had if it began on time.
So what's it gonna be boy? What's it gonna be? You want to wine and dine me slowly? Put more skin in the game and take the lumps you deserve? Or you want to make the cash grab that a 56 game or longer schedule will be and try to rush me back? As with everything, the puck is in your zone.