Daniel Cleary thinks that the two sides need to agree to a new CBA deal by Jan. 15 if the season is to be saved.
"Let's hope for (a) Jan. 1 (start)," Cleary said. "It's starting to wear now. It's getting so groundhog-ish. Skating every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. If nothing is going on by Jan. 15, that would be for me an end-all. It has to be. 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." NHL commissioner Gary Bettman would seem to agree. Although he hasn't given a specific date of no return, he has suggested that a season must be at least 48 games long for it to be viable. If Cleary's projection is right, then both sides have roughly a month to get something done.