Wayne Gretzky started this month by saying that, in his heart, he believed that the NHL would be playing by Jan. 1.
Since then we’ve seen what would have been the start of the regular season come and go while the union and league made little outward progress towards a resolution. The two sides met recently, but the core economic issues weren’t even discussed.
So after all that, does Gretzky still think there will be a new CBA before the Winter Classic — and the season for that matter?
“Yeah, in my heart, I do,” Gretzky told 98.7 ESPN New York according to Sports Radio Interviews.com. “I think first of all you have two smart people in the commissioner and the commissioner’s office leading the ownership group and of course Donald Fehr leading the NHLPA. I really believe in my heart that in ’04, changing the landscape, going to a salary cap was a real big issue and a real big fight.
“I think this one is more of a numbers issue. I see them getting something resolved here.”
Gretzky also expressed a hope “that people understand that unfortunately sometimes business is part of our sport” and watch the NHL again when the lockout is over.
Well, the NHL’s two new initiatives for ’15-16 seem to be going swimmingly.
Not long after Ottawa successfully made the second-ever coach’s challenge, fans got their first look at 3-on-3 overtime.
And what a look it was.
In the span of 137 seconds, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Philadelphia Flyers combined for eight shots on goal, a few breakaways, some tremendous saves — including one on a penalty shot — and, finally, Jason Garrison‘s game-winning goal on a breakaway from center, giving the Bolts a 3-2 win.
It was, in a word, fun.
Lots of fun.
A quick sampling of reviews:
Of course, not everybody was a fan:
Now, to temper things a bit — this was the first time we’ve seen 3-on-3 with something on the line, so there was a novelty factor at play. There’s also no guaranteeing future OT sessions will be as exciting as this.
But none of that takes away from the fact 3-on-3 made for appointment viewing, and immense entertainment value. The prospect of future games like this? That’s pretty exciting.
Didn’t take long for Alex Burmistrov to make his presence felt — though not in a good way.
Burmistrov, playing in his first game for the Jets after a two-year stint in Russia, delivered a questionable elbow to the head of Boston’s Patrice Bergeron late in the first period of Thursday’s season-opener:
Burmistrov received a two-minute minor for an illegal check to the head, while Bergeron received a matching minor for roughing (retaliating for the elbow, specifically).
The Bruins went into the intermission leading 1-0, and have yet to update Bergeron’s status.
Update: Bergeron stayed in the game, but B’s head coach Claude Julien was none too pleased with the hit. Following the game, he called for the NHL’s Department of Player Safety to look at it…