A report from the Winnipeg Free Press states that Gary Bettman will cancel the 2012-13 NHL season on Thursday, January 10th if a deal hasn't been reached or if a deal doesn't appear to be imminent.
The article from the Winnipeg Free Press says that a "veteran member of the NHL's board of governors" indicated Bettman was ready and willing to cancel the season in the coming days based on the belief Donald Fehr won't strike a deal until after the year is off the table.
As we've been forced to mention in several recent articles, take this report for what it's worth. We've seen countless reports dating back to the early stages of the lockout that claim either a deal would be struck to save the season or that Bettman was set to cancel the season with a wave of his hand. As you know, nothing happened. The rumors proved to be just that – rumors.
However, as our friends over at Puck Daddy noted, the Winnipeg Free Press was Bettman's outlet for one of the few interviews he has given during the current lockout. This would seem to add a bit of credibility to the report at hand.
Based on pure logistics, this report makes sense. We've already heard that the last chance for the season to start is January 19th. A deal would have to be in place at least a week before this date to allow players to train with their teams, tickets to be sold and for the arenas to be prepared. It seems as if a deal would need to be in place by January 10th (as the report indicates) or by the 11th (Friday) in order for some preparation to take place.
Whether you want to believe this report or not, the cold truth is that we will soon have an answer to the question asking if hockey will be played this year. Closure, for better or worse, is right around the corner.