NHL cancels games through Jan. 14

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NHL cancels games through Jan. 14

The NHL announced another wave of cancelations on Thursday, and a deadline to save any kind of shortened season may now be in view.

All games through Jan. 14 are officially off of the calendar, bringing the total number of canceled games to 625, or 50.8 percent of the season. There’s a strong possibility that if there is no new collective bargaining agreement over the next two-to-three weeks, the next announcement will be that the entire 2012-13 season is kaput.

In 1994-95, a 48-game season began on Jan. 20, just nine days after the NHL and players’ association agreed on a deal. In his most recent press conference on Dec. 7, commissioner Gary Bettman said that he couldn’t imagine playing a season shorter than that one.

He added, “the fact of the matter is, we’ll get to a point, at that point we’ll conclude we can’t have a season with integrity, and then we’ll have to make a tough decision,” Bettman said. “I am certainly hoping that we don’t get to that place. But when we do, we’ll be there.”

If they do reach an agreement, the schedule would be re-written from scratch and would likely feature only games within the conference.

On Wednesday, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly gave fans a slight ray of hope when he was asked by Hockey Night in Canada radio’s Elliotte Freidman to give a “yes or no” answer to the question of, “Will there be a season?” Daly replied, “yes.”

Union head Donald Fehr, speaking at an NHLPA charity game in Toronto, said, “I certainly hope he’s right.”

There are no meetings currently scheduled between the two sides.

Report: Sharks looking for a goalie before deadline

Report: Sharks looking for a goalie before deadline

The Sharks are reportedly looking for a goaltender prior to Wednesday’s noon NHL trade deadline.

According to TVA Sports’ Ren Lavoie, Canucks goalie Ryan Miller could be a possibility for San Jose. Miller is 16-18-3 this season with a 2.65 goals-against average and .916 save percentage for a Vancouver team that is virtually out of the playoff race.

If acquired, Miller would serve as the backup to Martin Jones, who has started 51 of the Sharks’ first 62 games and is in danger of being overworked headed into the postseason.

Jones has been backed up admirably by Aaron Dell, who is 7-3-1 with a 1.95 GAA and .934 SP in his first NHL season. Although Dell has started just 10 games, mostly against middling competition, Sharks coach Pete DeBoer recently expressed confidence in his ability to hold down the backup spot past the trade deadline.

“I don’t know what else he could do to show that he’s an NHL caliber goalie so far,” DeBoer said in Philadelphia on Feb. 11. “Those are decisions that [Sharks general manager Doug Wilson] makes, but in my mind, that’s not an issue right now for us.”

On Feb. 2, Wilson was asked if it is a risk going into the playoffs with an inexperienced backup.

“What you’re referring to is the comfort you have with the unknown. When you have a comfort with somebody that you know well, that the teammates and coaches know, that makes it much more comfortable,” Wilson said. 

“We’ll see what transpires between now and then. As I’ve said, we always explore any ways we can add to this hockey team.”

The Sharks acquired James Reimer from Toronto last season just before the trade deadline, giving Jones time off down the stretch. Reimer started eight of the final 19 Sharks regular season games before the playoffs.

GMs have taken all the fun out of Trade Deadline day

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USATSI

GMs have taken all the fun out of Trade Deadline day

The NHL trade deadline came and went Monday night when the Washington Capitals went chips-in on St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk.

(For the record, the actual details of the trade are so absurdly complicated that all you will be permitted to know here is that the Caps got Shattenkirk).

But the fact is that, yet again, all the air rushed out of Wednesday’s trade deadline balloon for the hockey media, and the poor sods on set to babysit all the deal-lets and non-deals will weep bitterly as their phones spit out hour after hour of non-information.

At least that’s the way it is playing now. Maybe Pittsburgh will finally close that long-rumored (well, by me, anyway) Sidney Crosby-for-Phil Di Giuseppe deal, but that’s not the way to bet.

But the trade deadline has been slowly but surely dying as general managers find far greater advantage in making their deals away from the time crunch and the persistent phone calls from other general manager, agents and worst of all, media weasels.

For example, the Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Pelicans broke the NBA trade deadline as well as the All-Star Game by doing the DeMarcus Cousins deal four days early and midway through the first half, in that order.

And though this wasn’t actually a trade, the Golden State Warriors broke the market back in July by maneuvering their way for the prize of the summer – Zaza Pachulia.

Oh, and the other guy.

In short, the general managers seem to have figured out the simplest way to foil the pressures of the trade deadline – by ignoring the deadline and acting ahead of time, creating their own spoiler alerts by spoiling everyone’s fun before they were fully alerted.

And that leaves the rest of us faced with an empty day of blather after we’ve all gone to the trouble of doubling down on beer and chips.

Ultimately the idea behind the coverage of a trade is to break the news of the trade whenever it happens. And the idea of the trade from the general manager’s view is to better the team and minimize the chance of being fired.

All laudable goals, by and large.

But a trade deadline without some recognizable trades is just another day when you can’t fake working, and who needs that?

What’s needed here then is a trade deadline with teeth and real tangible punishments for everyone involved. I mean, we have chips and guacamole to think of.

For instance, there is no reason why the leagues couldn’t install rules that say that no trade can be announced even to any of the principals (players, agents, medioids, et. al.) except on the day of the deadline. Any teams involved in a deal that breaks the embargo is fined a massive amount of the owners’ (as in both teams’ owners) money.

To make this work, the teams would have to agree no trade could be made between, say, Thanksgiving and the deadline. Or Christmas, depending on how you feel about tryptophan overdosing. But the point is, nothing could get done until the agreed-upon deadline, and it could only be announced to anyone on the day of the deadline.

This is profoundly unfair to the players, of course, but that little issue has never bothered management before when the alternative was money.

It is also not much fun for the media, which has to twiddle its opposables floating rumors that can’t be proven or disproven except on that one day when everyone works from midnight to midnight, wired to the eyelids on six-buck coffee and enough green tea to turn a gall bladder into a souvenir ash tray.

No, this is about making a worthwhile and ironclad trade deadline for the good of the sport, and the business.

Okay, this is about our amusement.

We all like trade deadlines. It gives order to the market, and it centers everyone’s focus on one hyper-adrenalized day to watch out for double-, triple- and quadruple-crosses from general managers wanting to jump each others’ action in search of their own personal Shattenkirks.

It spikes Verizon stock, it makes lots of business for movers and real estate vultures, it provides cheap and disposable fame for about two-thirds of the players in the league, and it makes everyone involved look like twitchy red-eyed zombies on television.

It beats the Bachelorette every time, because among other things it looks a lot more like parents do when they’ve been up all day and night with the colic farms.

In short, a trade deadline is a precious thing not to be discarded just because it’s inconvenient for a few suits and about-to-be-moved employees.

So yeah, Kevin Shattenkirk could have held another day or so. You know, for the good of the game.