The lockout is almost here. If the NHL and the NHLPA aren't able to come to terms by Saturday, September 15th we will officially see the league close its doors. The two sides continue to negotiate but the gap between the two is still pretty significant. In the midst of the negotiations we have seen players, agents and even former NHL stars offer up their opinions on what they think will happen in the event of a lockout.
If you're a regular on Twitter you've probably experienced the rollercoaster of emotions that has been the CBA negotiating process. One side makes a proposal which lifts our spirits. The other side promptly rejects it, deflating our optimism. As the negotiating has progressed some fans have remained confident a deal will get done while others have given up hope.
Wayne Gretzky and Bobby Orr both believe that if the NHL is forced to shut its doors that it will only do so for a brief amount of time, as seen in an article on Pro Hockey Talk. Gretzky believes that if there is a lockout that it won't last as long as the one that claimed the entire 2004-05 season. Meanwhile, Orr stated that he believes a potential lockout would merely be a "speed bump" and that a delay would be brief.
Overall, Gretzky and Orr both give extremely optimistic opinions. Unfortunately, they are just assumptions. We agree that the NHL would be wise to keep any sort of lockout brief. We imagine that they would almost have to come to terms sooner than later. However, one would also think that the two sides would be able to prevent a lockout in the first place. If the looming lockout is a brief one, why can't one be avoided all together?
Not everyone has such an optimistic outlook on the current situation. Yahoo! Sports references an interview with Dustin Brown's agent, Scott Norton, that has a much darker forecast compared to the views shared by Gretzky and Orr. Norton believes a lockout could claim as much as a full season and a portion of a second season. That's right, he thinks the next time hockey will be played could be a year-and-a-half from the time the lockout begins on September 15th.
To be fair, Norton's opinion of the lockout is just that – an opinion. Though he is an agent he isn't directly involved in the CBA negotiations. Norton may have some insight from Dustin Brown but he really can't pin a date on the time hockey might return any better than Gretzky or Orr can.
There you have it. Some believe a lockout will be short, consuming only a handful of weeks, while others believe a lockout could wipe hockey off the calendar for some 18 months. Chalk this up as an instance where everyone has an opinion and everyone wants to share it. Now it's just a matter of finding out who's right.
We know who we are rooting for.