Each week I stare blankly at my computer screen trying to figure out what to write about a hockey season that isn’t. Ironically, my computer screen just stares blankly back at me. I look at the keyboard with a sense of forced diligence, rather than that of frenetic excitement. I would love the opportunity to freely type the fanatical recaps of Dallas Stars games, the latest league updates and player stats. Alas, this is not to be (well, at least not yet).
Instead I have this to offer. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced Thursday that it is “unlikely” that the league will be able to play an 82 game season. While the deadline for a full season is more than likely going to come and go before a new CBA can be hammered out, I don’t really see this as a bad thing.
Anyone who watched last year’s abbreviated NBA season knows the toll a shortened season can have on the players. In a league where games are already very frequent, such as in the NHL, trying to squeeze extra games in a week or month will definitely lead to a higher physical cost to the players. Fans saw players dropping like flies in the NBA last year. Imagine how many players could be lost in a compressed season with a much more physical game.
Even our Dallas Stars might benefit from the abandonment of a compressed season. It could be argued that, due to the additions of senior players such as Jagr and Whitney, the Stars could use a more rest-friendly schedule. Brenden Morrow might actually make it through a 50 or 60 game season better than a compressed 82. With the frequency with which the Stars have been stricken with the injury bug over the last few years, one might even go so far as to say that this could be a blessing in disguise. If so, then the disguise is one that might hide the upside too well.
The idea that a shortened season would benefit the Dallas Stars more than a compressed one isn’t too far fetched. However, it is still a spit shine on a cow patty. 82 games has its benefits. Players have a longer window to get hurt, yes, but they also have an equally longer window to develop. Chemistry among a team that won’t have a full training camp, and no preseason, will be at a premium. Considering the amount of change that occurred in the off-season, the Dallas Stars could use all the games they can get.
How many games that will be is still unknown. How soon they will start is unknown. How the NHLPA and the league’s owners will be able to figure out a new CBA is unknown. How long Commissioner Bettman will keep his job after allowing another full season to be whittled away by stalemated talks is also, unknown.
The only thing that is known is that the fans are waiting….at least for now.