Oct 6, 2012, 10:00 PM EDT
While the 1994-95 lockout didn’t cancel a season altogether, former New York Rangers GM Neil Smith told The New York Post that it represented a significant missed opportunity.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt that the air got let out of the balloon by the lockout,” Smith said. “It’s undeniable that the lockout of ’94 lessened hockey’s chance of climbing the ladder.”
The Rangers were on the heels of breaking their Stanley Cup drought, prompting Sports Illustrated to wonder if the NHL might leapfrog the NBA in relevance.
Smith admits that he didn’t defy Gary Bettman on any noteworthy subjects during that lockout, but wistfully wonders what could have been if there was a typical 82-game season.
“We would have had a better season,” Smith said. “We were waiting to raise the banner, which didn’t get raised until around Jan. 21. You win on June 14 and wait until Jan. 21 to put the banner up?”
“It’s harder to get everybody serious about a 48-game schedule with ‘Hey, we have to defend our Stanley Cup’ that long afterward.”
(One cannot blame Los Angeles Kings fans for cringing after reading that last line.)
An abbreviated season would be better than no season at all, but Smith has firsthand knowledge about the damage dealt by a shortened campaign.
(Photo via Getty Images from NHL.com.)
- Video: Bolts lose Garrison, Paquette in loss to Wings 3
- Bruins ruin Lundqvist’s return 26
- Video: Letang hospitalized after Doan hit (Update) 42
- Bruins chalk Rask’s absence up to dehydration (Update) 4
- Happy returns: Datsyuk plays for Detroit 2
- Gearing up: Malkin, Hornqvist return for Pens 0
- Five big games to watch this weekend 8
- Video: Kessel, Booth get into altercation at Leafs practice 34
- Playoff watch — what the bubble teams need to do 29
- After Howard fails to ‘bounce back,’ Mrazek to receive ‘opportunity’ 36
- Dreger: ‘In Kessel’s case, I firmly believe he’s going to be traded’ (73)
- Coyotes ‘win’ against Sabres in OT (58)
- Red Wings beat Blues in OT, but should winning goal count? (56)
- Tank-worthy? Connor McDavid finishes OHL season with 120 points in 47 games (56)
- Report: No fine or suspension for Tyler Toffoli’s hit on Alex Burrows (51)