The NHL and NHLPA hope to begin negotiations regarding a mid-January start. St. Louis Blues fans should not hold their breath for long.
Once upon a time, St. Louis Blues fans held out a faint hope that we might get a pre-Christmas start to the 2020-21 season similar to what the NBA has planned. That hope came and went.
We hoped, in vain, that when the NHL announced they were pushing for a January 1 start that the Blues might still start their season in the Winter Classic. It would have been a big bang way to start the upcoming hockey season.
For understandable financial reasons, the 2021 Winter Classic was cancelled. The Minnesota Wild will still likely host the next one, whenever that is, but nobody knows if the Blues will remain the opponent.
With each passing day, an early January start becomes almost impossible. You would have to pull the trigger on a season announcement immediately for teams to have a viable training camp long enough to get them ready.
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So, word recently came out that the NHL was going to propose a January 15 start. That makes sense, given the current timeline, but don’t hold your breath on that either.
The problem is there is strife between the owners, the players and the commissioner. Nobody is on the same page.
The NHL and NHLPA came up with an extension to the collective bargaining agreement during the heart of the pandemic, giving them an extra six seasons of labor peace – or so we thought. Now, the owners are pulling a Darth Vader and hoping to alter the deal.
There’s a story going around that a group of owners is very upset with Bettman because they did not fully understand the logistics of the deal they signed. The problem becomes that this group is headed by the Boston Bruins’ owner, Jeremy Jacobs.
Jacobs one one of the spearheads of the league shutdowns in recent history. It doesn’t matter if you like what you signed or not, the bottom line is the owners agreed to it. The NHL cannot afford to miss a season due to owner greed.
Most fans are understanding about the idea that owners need fans in the stands, but that’s out of the league’s hands right now. Each individual owner needs to be more involved in the ridiculous restrictions placed on the people that could attend their arenas instead of boohooing about Bettman doing his best to actually keep the league going.
Unfortunately, this all means there is division within the ownership ranks which will slow down any negotiation regarding starting a new season. The longer this is dragged out, the less likely playing in January becomes.
As we have discussed before, the NHL has a small window to get things done. NBC is basically dictating they be done by the time the Olympics potentially begin, so the league cannot drag its feet and hope to play in the summer again.
So, as usual, there is no way to know how this all plays out. Blues fans just want to see their team hit the ice, but the men with the money and power, can’t get their acts together and just get things done.