No threat to Classic
A debate rages between the optimistic side of me (rarely used) and the pessimistic side (hello, old friend) when it comes to the NHL lockout. I'd say cooler heads will eventually prevail, but neither side is looking particularly frosty at this point.
So I'm putting the over/under on the end of the lockout at Dec. 1. It's right around then that many of the players will realize they haven't received a paycheck in a while and the league will start eyeballing the possibility of losing the big-time payday of the Winter Classic on Jan. 1 at cavernous Michigan Stadium.
Like everything else that has gone on at the negotiating table thus far between the NHL and players' union, money will be the determining factor when it comes time to get back to work.
Until league wises up
The NHL lockout will go on until the NHL gets smart and realizes it may alienate its fan base for years. There's been a decent amount of posturing on both sides, but no real movement on demands. They could miss anywhere from a month to half the season.
You would think that a lockout is the last thing the NHL needs. The league had a chance to capitalize on the exciting Stanley Cup final won improbably by the Kings. It was a great story about a team that had fired its coach at midseason, hired a new coach, Darryl Sutter, who was working his ranch, and went on a run that didn't end until the Kings held the Cup.
It appears the NHL is willing to let the story end.
Damage will be done
Los Angeles Times
The NHL lockout will end just after casual fans have moved on to other sports, just after sports editors and TV executives have gotten into the habit of covering other events and have forgotten about hockey and just before the point of no return to have a semi-respectable schedule.
It will end in time for the Winter Classic to be played New Year's Day at Michigan Stadium, because that's too big a showcase for even the NHL to mess up. It will end just before Kings fans become convinced that last season was a dream and they're all going to wake up and see Roman Cechmanek in goal and Dan Cloutier backing him up. Please, let it end before that happens.
It could be a while
Despite league revenue soaring from $2 billion to $3.3 billion since the last CBA was signed following the 2004-05 season-long lockout and the salary cap going from $39 to $70 million, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman still wants to slice the player's revenue from 57 percent to 47.
A record 10-year TV deal with NBC. Seven different Stanley Cup champs in seven years. The Wild hands out two $90 million contracts. All that prosperity, but with the NFL dominating the fall and NBA gearing up, don't expect hockey until you're carving turkey.