NHL lockout 2012: Bill Daly says there will be a season

Bruce Bennett

Bill Daly may have shown the NHL's hand a bit on Wednesday, saying there will be a 2012-13 season.

Will there be a 2012-13 NHL season (or just a 2013 NHL season), Bill Daly? That was the question asked by CBC's Elliotte Friedman of the NHL's deputy commissioner on Wednesday afternoon on SiriusXM's NHL Network Radio, and Daly responded with a shockingly blunt, candid answer.

More candid, perhaps, than we've seen throughout the entire lockout.

Friedman: 'I hope so' is not allowed to be an answer to this question, or 'I want to believe so' is not an answer to this question...

Daly: *chuckle*

Friedman: Yes or no? Do we have a season?

Daly: Yes.

This will be brushed off as a lie by many, or with a "believe it when I see it," and that's totally expected. That's my gut reaction as well. But there's absolutely reason to read into this, even if it does feel like Daly was painted into the "yes or no" corner by Friedman.

Daly does these interviews nearly every day -- certainly at least once a week since the beginning of the lockout -- and he knows how to handle the media. He's been the league's public face since September, and he's been their mouthpiece far more often than Gary Bettman, his boss, has filled that role.

If he wanted to, Daly easily -- easily -- could have danced around the bush on this one. A simple "No comment" or "I truthfully do not know the answer to that question" could have sufficed. But Daly played along and said yes. He couldn't have said no, of course, but he didn't have to say yes. That's meaningful.

Does it mean that we're definitely going to have a season? No, it doesn't. But it does mean that the notion perpetuated by the NHL over the last several weeks that the sides are "not close" is false. Bettman said two weeks ago that Don Fehr was irresponsibly toying with fans hearts by implying a deal was close, but doesn't the belief that there will be a season imply that the sides actually are close? (Never mind that the math also says the sides are close, too.)

Daly showed the NHL's card a bit today. You know that inkling we've all had that the NHL never planned on having a full season, that we were destined for a 48-game season beginning in January all along? This makes it just a bit more believable.

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