On Thursday, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman explained that the league and its owners would be prepared to lockout its players if a new Collective Bargaining Agreement wasn’t settled upon by September 15. Considering just how far apart the two sides are currently, it seems likely that a lockout—yes, another one—is looming. While it may not have the same implications or length as the last NHL lockout during the 2004-05 season, the effects could still be devastating…at least for the most part.
It’s not farfetched to believe that teams will suffer if there is a shortened NHL season, but could there be some teams that would benefit from one? Possibly—and the Boston Bruins might be one of those teams.
I didn’t want to write about Tim Thomas today. Or yesterday. Or even tomorrow.
But when Peter Chiarelli confirmed today that Thomas’ agent approached him in the beginning of May suggesting that the Bruins goaltender was considering sitting out the 2012-13 season, something had to be said.
Just a year ago, Thomas was the biggest story in hockey–maybe even one of the biggest stories in sports. He capped off an unbelievable 2010-11 season by winning the Stanley Cup, the Conn Smythe and the Vezina Trophy, all within a week of one another. Thomas was on top of the hockey world, and why not? The 38-year old, Michigan native had reached what would be the pinnacle of his career.
Only one place to go from there, you know.
It might be safe to say that out of the six Eastern Conference teams still in the hunt for the playoffs, the Boston Bruins have the most difficult schedule of remaining regular season games. The Bruins will first host the 9th seed Washington Capitals, just two points out of playoff contention before heading to New York for back-to-back games against the all-but-eliminated Islanders and a Rangers team which they’re winless against this season. After that, the Bruins will come back home to play the streaking Pittsburgh Penguins, travel to Ottawa to face the team closest to catching them for the Northeast Division lead and close out the season back in Boston against the Buffalo Sabres who are 7-1-2 in their last ten games.
A bit daunting when you think about how inconsistent the Bruins have been at times during the season, eh?
The good news is that the Bruins could potentially clinch a playoff spot in their next game with a win or overtime loss against Washington on Thursday. The bad news is that the division, along with their potential first round opponent, is far from being decided. Pair that with some tough decisions that Boston coach Claude Julien will face regarding starting goaltending and resting key players and you have to think: this will not be an easy two weeks for the Boston Bruins.