If you visit the NHL’s website right now and click on the schedule section, you will notice that all games up to December 14th have disappeared.
However, starting on December 15th, the schedule resumes with a full slate of games. The Ottawa Senators are supposed to host the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings. That same evening, the Toronto Maple Leafs are scheduled to visit the Vancouver Canucks at the Rogers Arena.
According to the NHL, these games are still on the schedule because they have yet to be officially cancelled. But the question that needs to be asked now is: Why doesn’t the league just wipe out the entire original 82-game schedule that was released in the summer?
Since we are now dealing with the potential of a compressed schedule – maybe consisting of 54 games at best – the original schedule has been rendered useless. There isn’t anybody with a ticket for the Kings-Senators matchup in two weeks who is actually holding out hope that the game will be played. Same for that Leafs-Canucks game at the Rogers Arena. Now that we’re moving to a compressed schedule, all of those out-of-conference games will be thrown out the window. If the league re-started on December 15th, it certainly wouldn’t be with them just picking up the schedule where it was supposed to start.
Would anybody be foolish enough to buy tickets for an upcoming NHL game that is currently on the schedule?
Of course not.
I could see the merits of keeping the original schedule back in October, when the league thought it could salvage an 82-game season. At that point, you could keep all of the games on the schedule and then just play the cancelled games at some point when there was a window. But now that the 82-game season has gone the way of the wooden hockey stick, it’s time that the league gave up the charade of cancelling games in two week blocks.
It would serve everyone’s best interests now if the league just wiped out that original schedule and indicated that a new schedule would be announced if and when a new collective bargaining agreement could be reached.
Doing so would alleviate the artificial deadlines that appear to be in place now. The cycle is too predictable: A week of meaningful negotiations, followed by a break-off from talks, ending with the cancellation of a two-week block of games. It’s one of those shampoo-rinse-repeat situations that have become tiresome for everyone involved.
It seems almost too-predictable that the league will now announce that all games until the end of December will be cancelled when they get together at the NHL Board of Governors meetings next week.
Once they announce that all games until January 1st have been cancelled, what’s the rush to get anything done for another couple of weeks? By removing games in two-week chunks, you are just moving the process along in a very predictable pattern. Let’s talk. Let’s break off talks. Let’s cancel more games.
But if the league had no artificial deadlines, they could work towards getting a deal done that starts the season on December 18th, 20th, 28th or January 1st. The season doesn’t have to start on the 1st or the 15th of a month; this isn’t like an automatic withdrawal that needs to come out of your account on certain dates. .
As it stands now, they are needlessly creating deadlines to fit into a schedule that is no longer valid. Stop the charade of pretending like the games currently scheduled for the last week of December could actually take place. If the season does miraculously resume by then, it will be with a brand-new schedule.