Dan Cleary has been one of the NHLPA’s most outspoken members during the lockout, so it came as no surprise when he answered the burning question regarding the work stoppage — what date is the point of no return for the NHL season?
“If nothing is going on by Jan. 15, that would be for me an end-all. It has to be,” Cleary told the Detroit News. “I know they canceled Feb. 16 last time, but it’s not fathomable to have a season at that point.
“You can’t have a 35-game season.”
As Cleary alludes to, there was a last-ditch effort during the 2004-05 lockout to try and salvage the season before NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman made it official on Feb. 16.
This time around, though, lines have been drawn regarding drop-dead dates. Following Thursday’s negotiations in New York, Bettman made it clear he and the league also have a timeline in mind.
“When it gets to the point where we can’t play a season with integrity, then we’ll be done,” he said. “If you go back in history, in 1994-95, I think we played 48 games.
“I can’t imagine wanting to play fewer than that.”