The NHL appears set for a 48-game season for the second time in two decades.
“I think 48 is most likely at this point, unless the players can expedite their ratification process,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly wrote in an email Monday to the Associated Press.
The NHL shortened its 82-game slate to 48 in the 1994-95 season after a 103-day lockout. A 301-day lockout in 2004-05 made the NHL the first major North American pro sports league to lose an entire season.
When the framework of a new collective bargaining agreement was agreed to Sunday morning – after 16 hours of negotiations – there was talk of having a 50-game season start later this month.
The NHL and the players’ association are working on a memorandum of understanding that must be voted on by owners and players. The league has circulated a memo to teams telling them to be ready to play by Jan. 19, the date the shortened season is expected to start.