(More on the lockout from SBRForum)
Figuring out odds is a lot like a guessing game. Even if an “expert” has a system or systems in place, the unexpected is a variable that almost seems like a constant. As November moved on, the numbers became more and more dire. Although some have put their money on the lockout ending before the season is axed, Las Vegas does not have the same faith. The very fact that Sidney Crosby is considering Europe (the KHL in particular) has to be a sign. Players that said they were staying are now going. At this point, there are well over 100 players playing overseas currently and that number is creeping up again. Cory Schneider is now going over and he was one of those players that was pretty steadfast in riding things out.
The fact that we are almost at the crucial 48 or bust scenario (see 1995 lockout) this early is very troubling and puzzling to many. However, no one should be surprised given how this league operates. The odds of a lockout have been like the stock ticker on the stock market. As of November 7th, we stood at a -140 which roughly translates to a 55% chance of a season ending lockout. Some in the media have realistically put the chances of a lost season at around 70/30, which is grave to be honest. People have to balance this with the fact that on July 31st, the chances of a lockout were only 30%. Basically there were 3 to 1 odds on there being a stoppage in the first place. Who knew how things would change?
When strolling down memory lane, simply those who do ignore history are doomed to repeat it. Gary Bettman clearly shredded that memo a few times over. We seem to always be at this crossroads every 7-9 years which is just way too often. Labor peace cannot be achieved when one almost knows a lockout is coming. In 1994, before odds on prop bets were kept, no one expected a canceled season. In the end, a 48 game season was salvaged in January of 1995 saving players a humble pie that would come later.
That pie would be served when the 2004-05 season was lost because of the fight of “cost certainty”. Bettman was going to get a salary cap into the game no matter what and the owners locked the players out. The season despite a few last ditched attempts was canned in February, which alienated quite a few fans. Eventually new rules, an improved Canadian dollar, and slightly improved marketing would propel the league into the $3+ billion dollar revenue stream. A new TV deal to the tune of $200 million per year for a decade also helped. However, if times seem prosperous in the world of the NHL, something bad has to come down the pike.
So we have two models that show some conflict between the two. This lockout has featured much talking and two sides that are closer apart than they appear. However there is a clear stubbornness that was present in the 1994 and 2004 disputes. That is what has driven the odds towards no season. As a matter of fact, on October 22nd, Bovada.com listed 4 to 7 odds that the lockout would go to January 1st or beyond. Basically again that means 48 games or bust. The good news is the dialogue is still flowing, relatively speaking. The bad news is that optimism has pretty well faded, even in the most positive of circles.
What actually lies ahead? The bet is that mediation may lead to some progress but honestly this comes down to both sides compromising just that little bit more. Can they? That answer is unknown. Odds are going to be fickle based on daily activities so it is advisable to check as often as possible before placing bets on a risky prop such as this. Time will tell who makes the correct on this bet. Stay tuned.