The hockey world got their first surprise of the shortened 2012-13 season. Just a few days before training camps open around the league, the Toronto Maple Leafs have fired general manager Brian Burke.
"Toronto Maple Leafs have apparently fired Brian Burke as general manager. Working on official confirmations."
It's not so much a shock that Burke was fired, but the timing of the firing. Obviously something drastic had to have happened over the last few days. If something out of the ordinary didn't happen, why did Burke keep his job before, during, and a few days after the lockout concluded? Especially after he made a key trade to beef up the strength of his forwards this offseason.
Burke sent defenseman Luke Schenn to the Philadelphia Flyers for forward James van Riemsdyk. Both players were top five picks but ultimately haven't lived up to the hype they brought in to each franchise. Burke wanted the Leafs to be more physical, and Van Riemsdyk surely fits the bill.
Hockey fans don't owe any words to either the NHLPA or the NHL union. Neither side many any ground breaking concessions to keep the season alive. The two sides lost out on some aspects within the new deal, but gained on others.
Essentially how every contract dispute in the real world gets resolved.
But don't tell that to the two leaders, Donald Fehr and Gary Bettman, who wanted to "win" the deal outright. Hence the lockout lasting 113 days yet the new deal looking like a lot of people predicted back in September.
Thanks to federal mediator Scot Beckenbaugh, the two sides learned how to negotiate the correct way. It wasn't easy for Beckenbaugh, who for days went back and forth between the two sides.
Distrust over "hidden revenue" late last week almost derailed the entire 2012-13 season. As childish as it sounds, neither side could come face to face with one another. Instead of talking with Beckenbaugh in the room, he had to become the messenger.
Earlier this morning, the four month NHL lockout came to an end. After 16 consecutive hours of talking between the NHL and NHLPA an agreement was made.
Oh how sweet it is.
The final step includes three pieces of ratification. First, the NHL's Board of Governors must come up with at least 16 out of the 30 possible votes. Second, the union's executive committee must come up with at least two-thirds of the votes. Lastly, the union's membership must come up with 51% of the votes.
Of course that will happen, and the NHL will be back in business.
The only question hockey fans have now, is a question they've been asking for 113 days.
When will opening night be?
That question is still up in the air, but it will either be January 15th (50 games) or January 19th (48 games).
The deal is made just five days before Gary Bettman's season cancellation date of January 11th.
Last night, a podium had been set up inside the media room of where the NHL lockout talks were taking place.
Thanks to social media, "podium watch" began trending on Twitter. This of course brought hope to thousands of die-hard hockey fans who had been following Twitter reading updates from anyone associated within the NHL world.
Some fans have read that coaches are contacting players telling them to be ready to report to camp. Others have read the strong possibility of Hockey games by Christmas.
What's more documented is that there are still significant issues within the meeting room.
In the end, nobody outside of those doors truly know what in the world is going on with lockout news.
It appeared late last night that there was a chance Gary Bettman would take to the podium and declare the end of this strenuous lockout.
It never happened.
Regardless, as of 1:10 P.M today, "podium watch" is still trending on twitter.
That's because the podium is where it's been for the majority of the last 24 hours. Speculation would say they plan on putting the podium to use.
The NHL better hope they do.