The NHL has been locked out for a week already and there are no signs indicating that it will end any time soon. The lockout could end at any time but it could also drag out through the entire season.
A key date for the lockout, which could determine if any of the upcoming season is played, is Jan 1, 2013. That is the date of the 2013 Winter Classic between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
What does this mean for the Phoenix Coyotes? The NHL could decide to use the Winter Classic as the season opener much like the NBA used its Christmas Day slate of games to open its season. If the NHL goes that route, the first game in 2013 for the Coyotes is a home game against their Western Conference Semi-Finals opponent, Nashville Predators on Jan 2.
The Coyotes were scheduled to take on the Los Angeles Kings at Jobing.com Arena, two days from now to open the preseason. But, on Wednesday, the league canceled all preseason games through the month of September. With no formal talks taking place last week, the entire preseason could be canceled as early as next week.
All Coyotes fans and hockey fans can do is hope that history does not repeat itself and manifest in losing an entire season like what happened in 2004-2005. The 04-05 season was not canceled until February of 2005 but there was not a major money event like the Winter Classic to complicate matters. If the league can not capitalize on the massive revenue-generating game, there may be not incentive for the owners to negotiate.