NHL, NHLPA Close to Blowing Up 2012-2013 Season

By brianpalmer
Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL canceled more games today, thus ensuring that there will be no NHL hockey for fans to enjoy anytime before January 15th. Of course at this point there is slim-to-no chance any of us will be enjoying NHL hockey at all this season, so it seems somewhat academic for the league to keep on canceling games two weeks at a time (besides, doesn’t the Phoenix Coyotes fiasco have a trademark on this whole “two more weeks” business?).

People keep talking about how there is no deadline being set for saving the season, but we all know this is nonsense because both the NHL and NHLPA have to have an idea in their heads of when the season must be saved by if they hope to play the minimum 48-game schedule media outlets keep hinting at. You have to think if a new CBA isn’t agreed to on or before about January 7th, that this season is going to be wiped out entirely.

Ah, but that could be just the beginning. As the Edmonton OilersShawn Horcoff recently pointed out, decertification could be on its way because the players have had it up to here with Donald Fehr and with the owners. Why is this so interesting? Because everyone in the NHL would become a free agent and all contracts would be torn up. Can you imagine the chaos that would create?

Some players would absolutely want to stay with their current teams, so superstars wouldn’t necessarily be jumping ship left and right, but can you just imagine any of the Chicago Blackhawks‘ or Pittsburgh Penguins‘ superstars moving to, say, the New York Rangers? Would we start seeing the NHL’s version of “The Decision,” with guys like Shea Weber, Steven Stamkos and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins declaring they will all be taking their talents to Detroit?

And speaking of Nugent-Hopkins, how about the obscene amount of talent in Edmonton that is poised to turn itself into the next dynasty in 2-3 years? If you were a fan of the Oilers (guilty) how would you feel about the players decertifying, knowing in all likelihood that your team’s chance to become respectable and soon elite again is about to be obliterated by these shenanigans since no quality players are about to go to Edmonton on purpose (sick to my stomach, actually, thanks for asking)? Both sides are playing with fire and trusting that the other is going to blink first, which means everybody is going to lose here.

Some insist the players’ talks of decertification are nothing more than a bluff, and the NHL even filed a preemptive lawsuit last Friday claiming that such a move would be illegal. Doomsdayers are also talking about how missing a second full season would not only cause a substantial number of players to effectively be forced into retirement, but it might ultimately lead to certain franchises shutting down. Whether any of these claims are true or not is debatable, but one thing is for certain: This thing is inches away from going completely nuclear, and if it does, the NHL will burn to ashes.

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