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.)
- Update: Drouin out with upper body injury, not expected to miss preseason 0
- Report: NHL officials to participate in preseason without new CBA 1
- Evander Kane: I know I can score 50 goals 12
- ‘C’-less Thornton comes out swing against Wilson’s ‘tomorrow team’ talk 18
- Joe Sakic’s now general manager in name too 6
- Update: Giroux out two weeks with lower-body injury 26
- Update: Crosby on ice with Penguins teammates Friday, leaves early 5
- Ouch: Wild reportedly suspend Harding for ‘non-hockey injury’ 28
- Keeping Kuemper: Wild sign goalie to two-year deal reportedly worth $2.5M 15
- Selanne regrets harsh words toward Boudreau 10
- Heeeeeere’s Johnny! Davidson shreds Johansen’s agent for ‘baffling, nonsensical’ contract demands (65)
- Chiarelli: At some point, I’m going to have to trade a defenseman (56)
- Jackets reveal Johansen offers — including an eight year, $46M deal (55)
- Will the NHL publicize divers? (48)
- No icing on the PK? The USHL will see how that looks (43)