Gary Bettman appears to be operating under the assumption that (1) the players will fold, just like last time, and (2) the fans will come back, just like last time. I wouldn’t bet on either. I would be willing to bet the NHL will return by summer of 2014. Beyond that, whether we’ll lose a few months, a half a season, a full season, or even two full seasons, that’s anybody’s guess.
Here’s more lock-out opinion, from Defending Big D, a Stars-centric blog Kings fans should read every day. Excellent NHL-wide content.
Detroit Red Wings vice president Jimmy Devellano [...] recently stated that the players were mere “cattle” in the eyes of the owners, a comment that sent the hockey world into a bit of a fit.
“The owners can basically be viewed as the ranch, and the players, and me included, are the cattle,” Devellano said. “The owners own the ranch and allow the players to eat there. That’s the way it’s always been and that the way it will be forever. And the owners simply aren’t going to let a union push them around. It’s not going to happen.”[...]
What is most alarming, however, [are] the recent reports of Gary Bettman’s plan for the Winter Classic. [...] [A]ccording to a league source, commissioner Gary Bettman is planning on canceling the Winter Classic in November. The move would obviously be a major blow to the players, as that was one of the few points of leverage the NHLPA actually possesses.[...] The Winter Classic is a major, major revenue stream for both the NHL and the NHLPA [...]. Over 100,000 people are expected for this game, not to mention the money [...] from HBO for the 24/7 series. [...]
“Gary told (the board of governors) he was going to cancel the Winter Classic in November because he didn’t want the players to use the game as leverage,” the source said.
A source close to the players said the NHLPA had heard the same thing.
“It’s a scare tactic,” the union source said. “It just proves the NHL has no intention of negotiating any time soon.”
Jesse Spector [says] that taking away the one major, publicity generating game would be “lunacy” [...].[...] The players have stated that they are willing to wait out season after season before they cave into the league’s demands [...]. The NHL could test that resolve by going ahead and canceling the entire season. [...] Sound insane? Larry Brooks of the New York Post says it’s certainly possible.
As cruelly brilliant as it would be for Bettman to nix the Winter Classic as a negotiator, it would be lunacy for him as the commissioner of the NHL, a league that plays 1,230 regular-season games, of which one generates any kind of buzz among the general public. You don’t willfully and spitefully cancel that game two months in advance. [...][...] Brooks says that a substantial number of teams are not looking to “hammer the players into submission,” and would actually take a deal that favors both the players and the league. [...] [The] league is apparently leaking the threat of the early annihilation of the 2012-13 season, [...] to pound the players into the exact deal they want. This exact scenario essentially happened seven years ago; the owners just weren’t smart enough to make that plan work, apparently. [...]
A well-placed source reports Bettman has told people he believes the NBA and Stern caved in to save the 2011-12 season [...], and Bettman is resolute in his stance against giving more than 48 percent to the union [...].
What would a cancellation of the season, or even the Winter Classic, do to the fanbase? [I think] the NHL is grossly underestimating the damage another lost season will do to this sport. Just because the fans came flocking back the first time doesn’t mean they will again. And franchises that have been in trouble, the ones that are apparently causing the league so much trouble, will fall [further] into financial despair.