Gretzky thinks last lockout eliminated “the big hurdle” to labor peace

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Whenever Wayne Gretzky talks hockey, it’s hard not to listen. His achievements as a player have earned him that much.

Lately though, Gretzky has also been one of the few optimistic voices during a lockout that that has led to fan frustration and anger.

Earlier this week he said that he still thinks we’ll have a 2012-13 NHL season. Part of the reason for that is because he believes the greatest gulf between the players and owners is already gone.

“I thought that in 2004 when we changed the structure and went to a salary cap, I thought that was the big hurdle,” Gretzky told Brian Shactman of CNBC Sports Biz. “So, it seems to me that the big hurdle is behind us or sort of in the rear-view mirror.”

Gretzky thinks this lockout has already cost the NHL fans, but he added, “it’s such a great game and these athletes are so good, hopefully we can win back some of those fans that aren’t happy with the current situation.”

Repairing the damage from the lockout is something that the players and owners will focus on eventually, but the first step towards recovery is agreeing to a new CBA.

Hopefully Gretzky’s prediction will come true and a deal will be done in time to salvage the 2012-13 campaign.