In the end, the best thing for hockey might be a year off. Hear me out:
We are standing on the precipice of economic doom. We all are aware of it even if it's not always salient in our minds. Fact is by this time next year there's a good chance that oil is $160 or higher per barrel. Even while we are seeing a high rate of inflation, it's nothing compared to the hyper inflation that is inevitably coming our way due to the three quantitative easing programs in the States. Consider that, based on current inflation rates, orange juice is slated to be $6/half gallon this time next year. Think about that, $6 will only get you half a gallon of OJ. Add the worldwide 2012 drought, and hyper inflation will turn into super inflation at the slightest over interest in commodities. For instance, several well respected commodities analysts are already listing a a question mark next to what the expected costs of corn bushels will be just next spring. We are realistically looking at an economic fiscal cliff North America has never seen. And this is optimistically assuming the coming mid east conflict doesn't span into other continents.
Signing a deal right now is a bit stupid considering the uncertainty of just about every sector of the North American economy; and if a deal is signed, it better be taking into account the worst possibilities of this uncertainty. Remember, the owners are some of the richest most well connected people in both Canada and the US. I assure everyone reading this that they, the owners, are well aware of the very real potential of a near future economic depression. Notice I didn't write recession, know that wasn't a mistake; I wrote depression very deliberately. They, again the owners, are very aware that signing the wrong deal now could lead the majority of NHL teams into a state financial insolvency; which is obviously something everyone involved with the game wants to avoid. Even though they had a $3 billion surplus of revenue last year, that could very quickly turn into a net loss next year with the wrong deal.
Mark my words, it's the uncertainty of the times that's driving the wedge between owners, players and fans. It's not owner greed or player money grabbing. This is the visible side effect, a microcosm, of how business stagnates when the economic foundations of society can not be reliably predicted; or worse, when all of the predictions point to a depression.
I miss hockey, but I think it might be best to wait and see how the first quarter of 2013 ends before a deal is made. By the start of April next year we'll know the direction of this economy, and, unfortunately, I think that at that time hockey won't be on anyone's mind.