96644504 Gretzky Thinks NHL Will Start Play This Year

(credit: Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (CBS SPORTS) – Will they play NHL hockey this year, or won’t they? That is the question. Everybody hopes the answer will be yes, but not everybody thinks the answer will be yes. Wayne Gretzky does, though.

Speaking to the Canadian Press, Gretzky said that he thinks the NHL lockout will end in enough time to play the season — and the season’s biggest regular-season game. “I believe in my heart, maybe because I’m such a big hockey fan, that they will be playing by January 1,” Gretzky said in a Q&A session in Toronto. “I think the hard part of their deal was the last negotiations [in 2004], of players agreeing to a salary cap.”

“Now that there is a salary cap in place and revenue sharing, I see them ultimately getting a deal done here and I see them playing hockey this year,” Gretzky added.

Considering there is only one game slated for January 1, the Great One is expecting the Winter Classic to still take place at the Big House in Michigan between the Maple Leafs and the Red Wings. Some continue to view that as a major factor in CBA negotiations. The league especially doesn’t want to miss out on the Classic, even if it has already threatened to cancel it.

The optimism from Gretzky is great, it gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling like whiskey on an Albertan winter day. It would sound a lot better, though, if Gretzky had any sort of say in the labor negotiations. Unfortunately, he’s not in the picture for either the players or the owners.

He certainly has a point that it wouldn’t seem like this lockout should last as long as the previous one did and wipe out the entire season. They aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel this time, just trying to patch the holes and stop the leaks. “Now it’s a question of working out the number that both sides think is fair,” Gretzky said.

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