That’s all the time that remains between now and the expiration of the current NHL collective bargaining agreement (CBA).
For many fans (myself included), the memory of the 2004-2005 lockout season is still fresh as the September 15th 2012 negotiation deadline looms.
A second NHL lockout in just eight years would undoubtedly be absolutely devastating for the NHL and the progress they’ve made south of the border when it comes to building the game.
Would the same be true north of the border for the Toronto Maple Leafs, however?
Could it be that a lockout may be beneficial for the Leafs as a team?
As it stands, Toronto is not positioned all that well to make a run for the playoffs in 2012-2013.
In addition to that, there is a strong possibility that the new salary cap once hockey resumes may be cut by a significant amount (if the owners were to get their way).
With Toronto set to shed some unwanted (and unnecessary) contracts at season’s end, they could be uniquely suited to not only come in under the new, lower salary cap, but also have room to go after a big name free agent like Ryan Getzlaf or Corey Perry, while other teams may have to try and figure out how they’re going to reduce their payroll before they can consider adding new pieces.
Furthermore, if the NHL were to use the same rules for the 2013 draft lottery as they did for the post-lockout 2005 draft, Toronto would be one of very few teams that would have all three of their balls in the lottery (mind you the chances would still be infinitesimal, but at least the Leafs would have a shot at the first overall selection).
The lockout would also give the Leafs a chance to focus on developing some of their young, talented prospects.
Another year of seasoning and playing a big role with the Toronto Marlies would do wonders for players like Matt Frattin and Joe Colborne.
It would also allow the Leafs to postpone making a decision Nazem Kadri for another year, until they clear guys like Tim Connolly and Matthew Lombardi off the roster and there would be more room to slot him into the lineup.
All in all, while another NHL lockout may be painful for the fans (and writers), it may not be all that detrimental to the success of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Jon is Rant Sports’ lead blogger for the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs. Feel free to comment in the comments section below and follow him on twitter @RantLeafsWriter.