First off, this column comes with a built-in disclaimer of interest because a percentage of you readers have expressed a "repudiation, denial or disavowal" -- which is how Webster¹s defines "disclaimer" -- of interest in the National Hockey League's doings thanks to its mind-numbing lockout. Well, we hear you. Nonetheless, we've been asked to make 10 fearless predictions for 2013. This, of course, assumes that an NHL season of some kind will happen at some point in the calendar year.
So, here we go:
Owners will always be better able than players to weather a lost season in today's business world. Players can rage at the injustice of this lockout all they want, but they had a reasonable deal on the table a couple of weeks ago in New York and something -- many suspect it was Fehr injecting himself into the talks again after progress was made without him in the room -- set everything back to square one. The press conference he held on that fateful Thursday night, when he said the sides were close to a deal, despite his knowledge that the league would reject the PA's latest proposal, is now widely seen by many in the agent community as a mistake. Of course, a lost season will also tarnish Bettman's already massively besmirched legacy. More than 10 percent of all NHL games - and counting -- have been lost under his watch since he began his reign as commissioner on Feb. 1, 1993. There is some thought that a group of owners would try to oust him should another season be flushed. Trouble is, Bettman needs only eight (technically, seven, since the league still owns the Coyotes) of 30 to back him up should a vote on his job security be tabled.
Translation: he ain't going anywhere, not unless he decides to step down.