This just in from the NHL-NHLPA labor front: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) October 1, 2012
Several months ago hockey fans were loudly counting down the months until October, longing for their beloved game of hockey to return. The Cup had been hoisted and a summer lacking ice was fully in front of us. October seemed a distant way off but we all assumed, and hoped, hockey would return with it. Surely the owners and players wouldn't be foolish enough to cancel NHL games again, right?
Fans long for the day of the unbridled enthusiasm that persisted throughout the summer. An incalculable number of Tweets and Facebook posts were tagged with the phrase "Wish it was October" or "Is it October yet?".
October has arrived but sadly you won't see many hockey fans celebrating. Where Tweets of "Finally! October!" and "October is here and so too is hockey" should be instead we find sad Tweets about the NHL staff officially being rolled back to 80% pay and 4-day work weeks. Instead of prognosticating how each team will do in 2012-13, we're tracking the players that took their talents around the globe while they wait for a new agreement.
Though things look pretty bleak, hope isn't totally lost. The league has canceled the entirety of the preseason but so far (knock on wood) no games that count have been cut. That statement could change in a hurry – like this week – but to date, 2012-13 is still on the table. Also, the two sides are still talking. That may not sound like much but in the past we have seen both sides table negotiations for extended periods, crushing any possibility of a deal being reached.
There's also slight optimism, and I mean slight, that a full 82-game season could still be played even if the league cancels some regular season games. Unfortunately, this thought is mostly a pipe dream as opposed to being cemented in reality. It's possible that the league could stretch out a bit more into spring but it's tough to imagine the NHL being able to pull this off in the event a significant chunk of games are axed.
The sought after month of October could soon turn very dark for NHL fans. Thankfully, the AHL, junior leagues and college leagues will be resuming as scheduled. Go out and support your club's AHL affiliate and reclaim your enthusiasm for the month of October.