Now that it looks like we finally have a deal, here are some of my lockout observations:
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- I have always maintained that cancelling the season was NEVER going to happen. It was NEVER a realistic option. Despite the gloom and doom from some of those who might have been too close to the scene at times, common sense ultimately prevailed. Neither side is THAT stupid.
- The "players are angry" and "Bettman is so angry he will cancel the season sooner rather than later" were comments proved to be smoke screens that fed the sports media beast in the short term.
- Time will tell if we should take sides as to who may have "won" and who might have "lost." I still remain unimpressed by both sides. Both will stick to their arguments that matters couldn't be settled earlier because of the 11th hour negotiating strategies of their opponents. To me, that remains debatable.
- I will give Don Fehr credit for bringing "bite" back to an NHL Players' Association that was in tatters in 2005.
- Mediator Scot Beckenbaugh is winning accolades as the early leader in Hart Trophy voting for this year's MVP of the abbreviated regular season.
- Fans, at least in Canada and the strong American markets, will forgive and forget...almost instantly! The shortened regular season will make for more games that truly matter! All teams will be in the playoff hunt for a longer period (pro-rated) in the regular season and fewer will be mathematically eliminated in March and April.
- A repeat of the start of the Columbus Blue Jackets' last season would be tough to recover from in any format.
- Can't wait to see how rookie Justin Schultz fares in his first NHL season with the Edmonton Oilers after being the first-half sensation with Oklahoma City in the American Hockey League.
- If I was an NHL player, I wouldn't be thrilled with staying home and fighting the good union fight while others play, earn income and stay in playing shape while playing for European teams.
- Goaltenders have suffered the most. Many coaches like Marc Crawford and Doug Shedden of European teams told me on Hockey Night in Canada Radio that teams overseas didn't want to sign a goaltender and risk having him leave halfway through the season. It would be fine to have a Henrik Zetterberg play and then go, but a goaltender leaves a larger void.
- I had great response and traction on Twitter with my idea of having the first-ever (and maybe only) NHL Buyout Draft Pool. I suggested Scott Gomez as a logical first overall selection. Followers quickly tweeted back with the likes of Wade Redden, Shawn Horcoff, Robert Luongo, Mike Komisarek and Rick DiPietro, and others as possible top draft picks. It was interesting to see the distinctive Canadian NHL team slant! Might as well have some fun with it after what we as hockey fans have endured.
- It is obvious where some of the media covering the lockout and NHL stand by virtue of their backgrounds. For example, Nick Kypreos as a former NHL player and well connected to the NHLPA, is obvious by what his consistent position is.
- I am curious about some of the supposedly "unbiased" media members who have seen neutrality fall by the wayside as they trumpeted what one side or the other was providing to them. Is it all forgive and forget from the "other" side, or have they kept score?
- Chris Campoli was one of the lead negotiators on behalf of the players and also an unrestricted free agent. Will it hurt him in trying to land with a new NHL team? I would hope not. Beyond his on-ice play, he is an intelligent guy and a class act. And, here I will declare my bias having met and spoke with him a number of times.
- The owners will never get the players to truly buy into their financial woes and there is justification for that. Constantly hearing the owners cry poor on one hand and then extol the successes of the NHL is a constant hypocrisy.
- If you are really honest about any financial duress then fold a franchise. Yes, fold a franchise. That is the only way you will get the players to truly believe.
- Now that Tim Thomas has "retired" for a year, will he have a change of heart and attend the Barrack Obama Inauguration?