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Top Stories of 2012, No. 10: Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs plays key role in ongoing NHL lockout 12.24.12 at 3:04 pm ET
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Over the final week of 2012, WEEI.com will count down the top 10 stories of the year in Boston sports. Our first entry in the countdown is No. 10: The NHL lockout.

Jeremy Jacobs and his fellow NHL owners appear headed for another lost season. (AP)

As the sounds of the Los Angeles Kings’ Stanley Cup parade faded out in June, discussion among the hockey community began to turn to the possibility of a lockout. Game 6 of the Cup finals drew more viewers than any hockey game ever had in Los Angeles (though ratings were down somewhat nationwide), and fans and commentators hoped the NHL wouldn’t squander any momentum on another labor dispute.

But when the players’ union and the league negotiated all summer only to find themselves at an impasse on Sept. 15, the CBA expired and league commissioner Gary Bettman imposed a lockout for the third time since he took the job in 1993.

Now, with games canceled through Jan. 14, over half of the original season is gone. An abridged season like the 48-game schedule of 1994-95, while possible, would have to begin very soon after Jan. 14 to be practical.

“I was a player when we played that 48 games, and it was like a sprint towards the playoffs,” Bruins president Cam Neely told ESPN Boston. “So it’ll be just that, I don’t know how many games … we’ll be able to get into the schedule, but it’ll be a sprint to the playoffs and everybody will know that. It’s just a matter of what kind of condition the players are going to be in, because it’s going to start off fast and furious.”

If the 30 owners were to vote on a compromise that would end the lockout, Bettman would need just eight of them on his side to keep it going. Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs has become the face of that bloc of eight, reluctant to abandon demands for shorter player contracts and a tighter salary cap (among other conditions). By all accounts, Jacobs has prioritized the owners’ desires over a quick resolution to the lockout.

During the 2004-05 lockout, Jacobs told The Buffalo News that the players were uninformed about the lockout and that the owners could afford to drag out negotiations.

“This is the silliness,” he said. “It’s the drinking-the-Kool Aid sort of thing where you have guys out there who think, ‘We’re going to make it so bad for the owners that they’re going to want us back.’ The fact is, this is getting worse, and it’s getting worse for the players more than it is for us.”

Jacobs allegedly clashed with Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller during the negotiations (although Miller denied it).

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