Time to run another play.
We know the NHL can cancel like nobody's business. They can cancel regular season games, all-star games, playoffs, Stanley Cup competition - hell, these guys have proven they can cancel entire seasons if they can't get their way with the NHL Players Association.
But can they do something more creative, more imaginative, than that?
Already, the league has cancelled two months of the 2012-13 season. October is gone, November is gone.
This Friday, everyone is expecting the Winter Classic, a battle between the Leafs and Red Wings Jan. 1 at the Big House on the University of Michigan campus, to get the chop.
Well, here's a chance for the NHL to prove it can do something different. Run another play, as it were.
Yes, there's financial considerations, and logistical ones, that make this Friday a meaningful deadline for this event, the first one in which the league and NBC will actually acknowledge the Canadian content of the NHL by including a Canadian team, the Leafs.
It will cost the NHL not to cancel, that we know.
But after pouring millions down the sinkhole that is the Phoenix Coyotes for four years, why not make a small investment in the game and NOT cancel the Winter Classic?
At least, not just yet.
Don't cancel it, and in so doing, make it an olive branch held out to the players. Don't cancel the Winter Classic and simultaneously offer to sit down with the players for serious bargaining ASAP, something that hasn't happened at all yet.
The league wants to negotiate off its last proposal. Well, the Fehr Bros. said this week that they're willing to talk about that. So talk.
This is an easy one for the NHL, to tell hockey fans that it treasures this particular event (I'm no fan, but folks do seem to like it) and that it's willing to take a financial hit to extend the deadline for cancellation to, say, Nov. 16th.
Again, there are logistical considerations. If this thing is going to happen as the full-blown two-week festival that is planned, they've got to get the ball rolling soon.
But two weeks and a few hundred thousand bucks shouldn't be enough to kill everything.
Players have been able to say for weeks now that they just want to play. Well, this would be a way for the league to counter that and say it just wants to play.
And can do more than just cancel, can do more than just bludgeon the players and in so doing, bludgeon the game.