In 1995, after a strike that claimed the World Series and end of the 1994 campaign, Major League Baseball played a 144-game season. In 2011-12, the NBA played a 66-game truncated season in the wake of its own lockout, beginning on Christmas Day — a nice present for basketball fans.
With the NHL lockout now dragging well into December — and putting the entire season in serious jeopardy — if the puck does ever get dropped on the NHL this is a similar reality to what hockey is looking at. With almost all of 2012 in the books, a shortened campaign may kick off in 2013.
But does a shorter season take away the luster from winning the big prize at the end? The Atlanta Braves were never considered illegitimate world champions after disposing of the Cleveland Indians in 1995 — but 144 games is still a good slate. Likewise for the Miami Heat earlier this year, as no one is likely to soon say that LeBron James and Co. wouldn’t have won a title, anyway.
But with hockey staring down the possibility of a minimum 48-game schedule to play a “legitimate” season, is it actually so legitimate? Should a prospective Stanley Cup champion be forever asterisked in the history books since their future triumph came in a partial season?