The end times for the NHL became a little clearer Thursday when the league announced it cancelled all games through Jan. 14.
Coupled with a statement by NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly a day previous that a shortened season must begin by mid-January or the entire 2012-13 season will be scrapped, it appears the deadline for starting even a 48-game season is Jan. 15. This was not mentioned in the NHL's brief press release announcing the cancellations, although the league did note it passed the halfway mark in cancelled games, as the 625 games cancelled so far because of the lockout represent 50.8 per cent of the an NHL team's 82-game season.
Up until now, these periodic cancellation announcements by the NHL were simply public-relations exercises. It was always known none of those games would be played once the lockout crossed into the regular season because a new schedule would have to be drawn up.
But with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and then Daly making it clear the owners are not interested in anything less than a 48-game season, Thursday's announcement pointed to a season start of Jan. 15 or it's all over. Daly emphasized that again in an interview on Edmonton radio station The Team 1260.
"You're looking at the middle of January [as] the date this needs to be resolved," he said. "I'm committed to doing it."
However, yet another day passed with no communication between the league and the NHL Players' Association.