After the NHL faced the PR disaster of their market research focus group documents going public on Monday, they needed to do something quick to fix their image among hockey fans. The announcement of a new, seemingly reasonable CBA proposal with the aim of saving full 82-game season? That ought to do it.
While there is still a lot of work to be done in negotiations and time will tell how truly reasonable the offer is, the fact remains that this is the first real glimmer of hope that a deal could get done in time to save the 2012-13 season. The key for the owners, however, is that this offer is contingent on a deal being reached within the next 9-10 days, as they want a full 82-game season and all the revenue that entails.
In order to cram all those games in, the NHL schedule would need to get a lot more compressed, meaning more back-to-back games, more fatigue, and more risk of injuries.
Which means Mike Gillis might not want to trade Roberto Luongo after all.
Gillis has been clear all along that he is comfortable starting the season with both Luongo and Cory Schneider on the roster. This has generally been interpreted as a tactic to keep Luongo’s trade value high, so as to not appear to be bargaining from a position of weakness. I’ve talked to some fans, however, who see it in the Canucks’ best interests to keep both Luongo and Schneider as long as possible, as the two are easily the best goaltending tandem in the league.
With a compressed schedule, having two solid goaltenders is particularly important. Fatigue and injuries are already hard on number one goaltenders who play a lot of games. With a compressed schedule, those risks are heightened. If a deal is reached and a full 82-game season is played, teams without a capable backup goaltender might be in trouble.
At the moment, the Canucks don’t have that problem. Luongo is already a proven number one goaltender and Schneider has given the Canucks every confidence that he can also perform at that level. Keeping Luongo would allow the Canucks to rotate the two goaltenders, keeping them fresh even with more games in fewer nights.
Gary Bettman claimed that the compressed schedule would mean just “one additional game every five weeks,” but that math just doesn’t add up. The aim is to start the season by November 2nd. For the Canucks, that would mean 11 regular season games missed that would need to be worked into their schedule. If just one game was added every five weeks, the seasons would need to be 55 weeks – over a year! – long. The season normally ends in mid-April, which is just 23 weeks after November 2nd. Even allowing for a few more weeks by pushing the playoffs further into the summer, that is still one extra game every two-and-a-half weeks.
That may not seem like much, but with the Canucks already employing sleep doctors and using carefully planned travel plans to mitigate the difficulties of a normal schedule, those extra games will be tough on the players, particularly goaltenders.
It just might make sense to keep Luongo for one more season.Tags: Cory Schneider, Lockout, Luongo, Mike Gillis should listen to me because I am smart, Roberto Luongo, schneider