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Detroit’s Cleary: Jan. 15 “end-all” date to save NHL season

Dec 11, 2012, 4:52 PM EST

Danny Cleary Getty Images

Dan Cleary has been one of the NHLPA’s most outspoken members during the lockout, so it came as no surprise when he answered the burning question regarding the work stoppage — what date is the point of no return for the NHL season?

“If nothing is going on by Jan. 15, that would be for me an end-all. It has to be,” Cleary told the Detroit News. “I know they canceled Feb. 16 last time, but it’s not fathomable to have a season at that point.

“You can’t have a 35-game season.”

As Cleary alludes to, there was a last-ditch effort during the 2004-05 lockout to try and salvage the season before NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman made it official on Feb. 16.

(Click here for the CBC’s timeline)

This time around, though, lines have been drawn regarding drop-dead dates. Following Thursday’s negotiations in New York, Bettman made it clear he and the league also have a timeline in mind.

“When it gets to the point where we can’t play a season with integrity, then we’ll be done,” he said. “If you go back in history, in 1994-95, I think we played 48 games.

“I can’t imagine wanting to play fewer than that.”

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