NHL Hall of Famer and former part-owner of the Phoenix Coyotes Wayne Gretzky expects that the lockout will be over in time for the annual Winter Classic held on Jan. 1.
In an interview with Reuters, Gretzky said that the differences between the two sides in 2012 is nowhere as bad as the proposed changes in 2004, via The Chicago Tribune:
“In 2004 we were changing the whole landscape, ownership wanted to have some sort of revenue sharing, and once we came to the revenue sharing, the hard part from my point of view seems to be out of the way.
“Now it is a question of working out a number that both sides think is fair. And that is why I believe that I don't see this lockout being as long as the last one.”
When asked further what was the most difficult part of the last negotiations, Gretzky responded that it was the implementation of the salary cap and having the system already in place should make it a quicker process:
“I think the hard part of the deal was the last negotiations of players agreeing to a salary cap. And now that there is a salary cap in place and revenue sharing, I see them ultimately getting a deal done here and I see them playing hockey this year.”
The NHL regular season is scheduled to begin Oct 11, but the entire NHL preseason has already been cancelled and most expect a significant part of the regular season to be lost as well.