After 114 days and 510 missed games, NHL owners and players have tentatively reached an agreement that will allow for hockey to resume. The 2012-13 season, which was nearing its drop-dead date, will begin an abridged schedule sometime next week.
Once the 48 (or possibly 50) game schedule commences, there will be a sprint to the playoffs, featuring lots of back-to-back games, with no All-Star Game, or Winter Classic. Players, many of whom have been playing overseas, are currently flocking to their team's training facilities in hopes that the deal will be signed and ratified quickly, allowing them to resume team activities.
While many are excited to see the salvaged season, there is still a large public relations elephant in the room. The fans, who have been fairly patient and loyal, may not be willing to buy back in to a league which has now skipped more than one and a half seasons out of the last nine. Fan bases in Canada, Boston, Philly, New York, and Chicago run deep enough to absorb the backlash... but the smaller hockey markets; Phoenix, Nashville, Florida, etc., may not have the resources to resurrect and support their teams. While it is definitely good that hockey is coming back, we may see a domino effect leading to the folding/retraction of some of these teams... which would be a good thing for the league as a whole.
Regardless of how this all shakes down, I am glad to see hockey back, even if there was no good reason for it to leave in the first place.
- Kevin Aherne
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