LaFontaine “fairly optimistic” there will be hockey this season

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Pat LaFontaine can’t imagine the NHL losing another season to a work stoppage. Not so soon after the 2004-05 lockout that cost the entire schedule.

Instead, LaFontaine expects a new CBA to be reached soon and a shortened season to be played, like what followed the 1994-95 lockout.

“They’ve obviously done this before,” LaFontaine told The Buffalo News on Wednesday. “They’ve obviously lost a season before. But I’m fairly optimistic you’ll see some kind of agreement by Dec. 1. I believe that. I feel real strongly that knowing what it was like to lose a season, knowing what it was like to gain a half-season, they’ve been through both sides and know the importance of needing to have at least a half-season or more.

“I’m fairly optimistic that we’ll see hockey. I hope before Christmas, but I think worst-case scenario – I’m an optimistic person – I see at least a half a season.”

LaFontaine is far from alone in his “they can’t possibly do this again” reckoning, but the doom-and-gloom reports from the owners’ side are tough to ignore.