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January 6, 2013 | 1:37am ET

The lockout nears its end

TORONTO -- The NHL lockout has reached its most critical point yet. If a deal doesn't get ironed out over the next six days, the NHLPA will files its Disclaimer of Interest and the season is going to be wiped out.

But the two sides are working diligently to prevent such an outcome (better late than never, I guess), and while updates have slowed significant at 12:45am ET on Sunday, as I'm writing this, I figure I'd get a head start on a new section I'll be writing throughout the year called "Remember When."

In this section, you'll read all my ramblings surrounding the NHL, its players, special events, games (whenever those get going), and stuff that probably has nothing to do with hockey. Translation: these are items I'm too lazy to write a full article about separately, so I give you the Coles Notes version:

Remember When...

1. The Winter Classic, All-Star Game, and 34-30 regular-season games (depending on whether we see a 52, 50 or 48 game season this year) have been wiped out because of this lockout? Good times.

2. Guys like Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin and Ilya Kovalchuk are getting around $10 million each to play in the KHL this season? No wonder they love it so much over there. I would.

3. Speaking of the KHL, remember when they're planning on expanding to Italy and Croatia as early as next season? I've been all over most of Italy, but haven't gone north of Florence. I smell a trip to Milan coming up in the not-too-distance future.

4. Everyone thought a new CBA was going to be ironed out in November? Many believe a deal could and should have been done back then, but conspiracy theorists suggest the NHL's hidden agenda has been to kill half a season, save a chunk of the players' salaries, make the NHLPA sweat it out, and then get a deal done. 

5. I may be a conspiracy theorist?

6. Some teams were under the impression the season was going to get underway in December, so they notified some of their staff that this was going to be the case? Oops.

7. Lightning owner Jeff Vinik gave all full-time team employees an extended paid vacation over the holidays? Good karma for him. Great gesture, and shows his character. The Bolts have a quality man behind them, and he's got the pockets.

8. A few NHL players have joked about how bad the quality of hockey is going to be in the first part of the season, when/if it gets underway? With a week to get everyone to their respective cities and to practice, I don't disagree. Not everyone has signed overseas or in the ECHL and is in game-shape. A good chunk of guys have found it difficult to motivate themselves during the lockout to go through the same skating routine without high-end competitive practices. Some guys haven't gone through an NHL skate since April.

9. Katie Alexander of the Bikini Hockey League (yup) came on our radio show a few weeks ago and said one of her teammates took a "puck to the chest like a champ?" You can't make that stuff up.

10. We've been limited on the kind of guests we get on our show during the lockout?

11. Two of the first few questions Patrick Kane took during his intro press conference on Swiss team EHC Biel back in October revolved around cab drivers and partying?

12. Pierre LeBrun gets the award for the best line of the lockout thus far, when he called it "the most embarrassing work stoppage in the history of pro sports."

13. Doug Gilmour slammed the penalty box door while playing for the Habs and it shattered? Go YouTube it, because I just did.

David Pagnotta is the Editor-in-Chief of The Fourth Period Magazine. Follow him on Twitter.
 

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ARCHIVES 
Jan. 04, 2013 The fugliness has returned
Dec. 28, 2012 The future is beyond bright for NHL
Dec. 07, 2012 WTF happened?
Dec. 03, 2012 NHL COO none too pleased
Nov. 04, 2012 Slowly, progress being made
Nov. 02, 2012 NHL, NHLPA set to meet

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