With every passing second it gets clearer and clearer that a lockout is looming in the very near future. With the September 15th deadline just weeks away and very little progress being made, there is a good chance that the first half of the season is in jeopardy. If there would in fact be a lockout and games would be canceled, would the Wings benefit due to that or could the Wings be put in a worse situation, which is what I will be going over today.
Last year, the NBA was in a similar situation as the NHL is in right now. Their CBA was expiring and they had to figure out a new deal. Negotiations went on and on throughout the fall before both sides finally came to an agreement in early December. The NBA decided to play 66 games, which is 16 less then what they would play on a regular basis, and managed to salvage a season which gave the Miami Heat a championship.
Like I said the NHL is in a very similar situation as the NBA was, their current CBA is expiring and most people are expecting a lockout. So the question is, if there was in fact a lockout that lasted to late October or early November, would the Wings benefit from a shorter schedule or could it hurt them?
There isn’t a simple answer to this as many aspects have to be considered. One of the big arguments in favor of the Wings benefiting is that last season they were the leagues most dominant team for about 3/4ths of the season. They were most peoples favorites to go far in the playoffs (including mine) and up until the injury streak in March that seemed to be true. The loss to Nashville in the playoffs tends to overshadow what the Wings were able to accomplish for the greater part of last season. They went on a record setting 23-game home win streak and seemed to once again disprove the theory that the Wings are “Old” and “Washed-up” and that they were in need of a severe tune-up. So with a shorter season, a injury bug may be able to be avoided or at least not as severe as hopefully guys are rested up and with lesser games, they won’t get as banged up as the season progresses.
However, it is not so easy, the Wings have had a big turnover on their roster this offseason and they have many new parts that need to start clicking if the Wings want to succeed. Due to the many new faces, the Wings may very well have an adjustment period at the beginning of the season. A period like this may very well be affordable in an 82-game season but in a shorter season you have to be ready from the get-go.
The Wings have many players that this year will be asked to take on major roles on the team, roles that they haven’t experienced before or that they haven’t experienced at an NHL level. Those players will need a time to settle in and a time to adjust to the pace of the NHL. This time could have been given to them in the past, however, with less points to be awarded teams need to be winning from day one and can’t afford players adjusting. Regardless of what you think of guys like Gustav Nyquist and Brendan Smith, they are still rookies and will make many rookie mistakes.
Like I said this isn’t an easy question to answer. The only people who really know the answer is the players themselves, and they won’t even know until the season rolls along. However, I do think that a shorter season does benefit us more than it hurts us.
Not much other news today in the Hockey world besides Osgood winning round 4 of the bobble-head competition and Evgeni Malkin saying that he will play in the KHL if there is in fact a lockout.