The 2012 NHL Lockout is entering its 81st day. Before that happens, however, the two sides took commissioner Gary Bettman‘s suggestion to meet without their leaders. The meeting, which is still taking place at this hour, is being held in New York City with six owners and 18 players in attendance. The most notable players, other than stars like Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby and Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, are the New York Rangers‘ Brad Richards and Tampa Bay Lightning’s Martin St. Louis.
Why are the last two names I mentioned so noteworthy? Well, as long ago as it probably seems, those two teamed up in 2004 to help the Lightning win their first-ever Stanley Cup. Also, though Richards has since moved on from the Lightning, the two remain good friends. They even practiced together here in Tampa for a short period of time in early November.
Another thing both players have that some others don’t is lockout experience. Both were coming off a fantastic year in 2003-04, with Richards winning the Conn Smythe Trophy given to a team’s Most Valuable Player during the playoffs and St. Louis coming off a year in which he won the Hart and Art Ross trophies along with the Lester B. Pearson award. Then, the 2004-05 lockout stunted their growth for a year.
Something else that could play an important role this time around is the fact both Richards and St. Louis are getting older. At 32 and 37 years old respectively, it’s easy to see that these two–especially St. Louis at 37–don’t have much time left in their respective careers to waste another entire season.
As for their role in our current NHL lockout, these two have a history of teaming up to produce good things. Who can forget them teaming up early into double overtime of Game 6 against the Calgary Flames to send the Lightning back home where two nights later, they won the Cup? I certainly can’t!
Regardless, let’s all hope these two find a way to rekindle their magic. If they do, we might see hockey as early as January 2013. If they don’t, well, don’t expect NHL hockey to return before October 2013–if not later.