A couple of days ago, a friend told me the NHL would be releasing the 2013-2014 schedule on Wednesday at around 10 AM. I figured that was going to happen, rain or shine. This wouldn't silence those who are asking "Is it October yet?" It would, however, provide a lick of news in the growing doldrums of the offseason.
Tuesday afternoon, Erik Erlendsson further confirmed the forthcoming schedule release, via Twitter:
OK, so the news is forthcoming in the afternoon, not morning. Good things come to those who wait and all that. The schedule was coming Wednesday, that was the fact.
Or was it?
Wednesday, with its anticipation, came and went without a release of the schedule (sans for a leaked copy of the Florida Panthers schedule, provided by George Richards). For those who soldiered on through the 2012 Lockout (through its days of marathon bargaining sessions and other imminences' tied to the resurrection of the league) this was more of the same; more of the same waiting for something that should have gone off smoothly.
But why? Why are we waiting? Why wasn't the schedule released on time on Wednesday? The answer is "Sochi". The answer is the Games of the XXII Winter Olympiad. The NHL has still not finalized its deal with the International Ice Hockey Federation, and so the participation of NHL players in Sochi is still up in the air... And so is the schedule.
If the NHL does participate in the Winter Olympics, the league will shut down for almost 3 weeks time in February 2014. Yet, if the league should stumble and balk at participating in the Olympics (which would be foolish - something the league has shown an affinity for), then that 17-day period in February that is absent any league-games would have to be appended.
I'm not posting this to raise doubt on the NHL participating in Sochi as so much to explain where the NHL schedule is. Releases are likely primed and ready to go, but they cannot be distributed to the public until the whole 2014 Olympics deal is finalized.
So, we wait. Again.