Since the wheels of justice turn slower than Keith Jones at the end of his career, the NHL needs to start thinking about how long a shortened season has to be to hold any weight with its diminishing fan base.
If an abbreviated season cannot start by Jan. 1 – and it’s looking more and more likely it will not – hopes for anything more than a 50-game schedule are pretty much out the window.
When I spoke to Mike Knuble last month, he told me he thought the NHL was a month away from giving its best offer and that anything fewer than 55 games would be a hard sell to fans.
“You don’t want fans putting asterisks on seasons,” Knuble said.
On Friday CSNWashignton’s Kellie Cowan caught up with the Capitals’ Jay Beagle and asked him how many games would constitute a legitimate season.
“That's a tough question because, as a player, I just want to play,” Beagle said. “So if it was 40 games… But once it gets to 30 games, I don't know. It wouldn't be a very fun season.”
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has stated that he would not condone a season shorter than the 48-game season in 1994-95 when Scott Stevens and the Devils won their first of three Stanley Cups.
That year, the NHL lockout ended on Jan. 11 and the league began play on Jan. 20 with the regular season ending about three weeks later than normal on May 3. The Stanley Cup was awarded on June 24 when the Devils swept the Red Wings.
Beagle said he’s so anxious to begin a season he’ll take almost any number of games.
“If they get something done and they want to play 10 games I want to play,” Beagle said. “It'd be nice to get something done so we can still get 50 games in, even 40 games would still be good.”
Beagle said with each passing day the number of games in a shortened season is reduced. Unfortunately, so are the chances of any kind of season taking place.
“We always talk about that in the [locker] room and everyday it changes,” he said. “I just hope that we get something done and we can still play at least 40 games.”
What’s your opinion? How many games would make a legitimate NHL season? Join the conversation below: