Rob Soria is the Edmonton Oilers' correspondent for OurHometown.ca. Rob was born and raised in Edmonton and is the author of the Edmonton Oilers blog - OilDrop.ca. He has been a dedicated follower of the game and its history for years but his focus remains on his hometown Edmonton Oilers. If you have questions or wish to contact Rob, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
NHL owners would be foolish to use the Winter Classic as a deadline
By Rob Soria
Many seem to feel NHL owners would be ok with shutting the league down until December, with the hope of being up and running well before the 2013 Winter Classic. They may not want to jeopardize the annual spectacle but they may have little choice, if they decide to play hardball with the NHLPA.
Edmonton - August 29, 2012 - While I consider myself to be in the minority, in actually believing the NHLPA and owners could come to a "last minute" agreement and start the NHL season on time, I am not counting on it. With both sides seemingly more interested in trying to make the other look like the "bad guy", which the majority of fans have little interest in, the looming NHL lockout will in all likelihood become a reality in mid September.
If that does occur, the obvious question than becomes...For how long?
Many seem to feel the owners would be more than ok with shutting the league down until December, with the hope of being up and running well before the 2013 Winter Classic. The owners may not want to jeopardize what has become the league's biggest spectacle south of the border but they may have little choice in the matter...if they decide to play hardball with the Players Association.
At the moment, almost all the power sits in the hands of the owners and most think that would only increase, the longer the lockout. There is little doubt that the longer this goes, the better the chance that some players start to feel the crunch of not seeing a regular pay cheque. Having said that, the closer they get to whatever cutoff date the NHL have in place with HBO for the filming of the 24/7 series, which coincides with the Winter Classic, the more pressure will mount on Bettman and company to strike a deal.
From a players stand point, it's pretty simple. They know they have to give up something but they won't be bending over backwards and taking it all onto their plates. The fact is, the longer the owners keep the players out of NHL rinks, the better chance they will stick to them come December.
If Gary Bettman honestly thinks a union run by Donald Fehr, the same man who was behind the MLB Players Association going on strike weeks prior to the 1994 post season, he is badly mistaken. Both sides have the ability to get this done with little, if any, of the 2012 - 2013 season but they have to want to do it.
The longer it goes, the more personal it becomes...something the owners must keep in mind. If an agreement isn't reached and there is no NHL hockey by mid November, you can bet there will be no hockey come January 1st, 2013. The Winter Classic is a card the NHLPA have up their sleeve and one they will almost certainly play, if they are pushed.
The more money the players lose being locked out, the better the chance that the Association will hit the league where in hurts, the pocket book. The annual event is a very big deal to Mr.Bettman and the NHL but they will be kissing that game good-bye...if they are not careful.
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