Oklahoma City Barons: Hockey fans should enjoy 'Fab Four' while it lasts

Once the NHL lockout ends, which might be soon, Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle and Justin Schultz will be reporting to the Edmonton Oilers.
by Michael Baldwin Published: December 27, 2012
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photo - Taylor Hall of the Oklahoma City Barons and Jamie Oleksiak of the Texas Stars fight or the puck during an AHL hockey game at the Cox Convention in Oklahoma City, Friday, Dec. 21, 2012. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
Taylor Hall of the Oklahoma City Barons and Jamie Oleksiak of the Texas Stars fight or the puck during an AHL hockey game at the Cox Convention in Oklahoma City, Friday, Dec. 21, 2012. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

Barons fans have experienced a rare treat that probably will never occur again in Oklahoma City.

During the lockout, players with NHL experience in entry level contracts are allowed to play in the American Hockey League.

No franchise has been blessed with more “star power” than the Barons, the Edmonton Oilers' Triple-A affiliate.

Oklahoma City's roster features two former No. 1 overall draft picks, an NHL All-Star and a fabulous rookie defenseman being compared to former NHL greats.

But how much longer will Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle and Justin Schultz play in the Cox Convention Center?

Could Friday's game with San Antonio and a New Year's Eve game with the Texas Stars be the Fab Four's final games with the Barons?

Optimists claim NHL owners and the NHL Players Association will be forced to broker a deal soon to salvage a 48-game season and avoid a lost season similar to eight years ago.

Pessimists claim Eberle, Hall, Schultz and Nugent-Hopkins could play all season in Oklahoma City because the two sides are too stubborn to iron out delicate details to end the stalemate.

The lockout already has surpassed 100 days.

The next step is whether NHL players file a “disclaimer of interest,” a quicker way to decertify the union. Breaking up the NHLPA would prohibit players from collectively bargaining as a union but would file an antitrust lawsuit in an attempt to force owners to hammer out a deal.

It was reported that 706 players voted in favor of disbanding the union while only 22 voted against it. The union's executive board has until Wednesday to decide whether to file the “disclaimer of interest.”

In a pre-emptive move, owners filed an antitrust lawsuit against the players.

Whether the legal jockeying will be decided in court is uncertain. The two sides haven't traded proposals since Dec. 6, when significant progress was made. NHLPA boss Donald Fehr claimed the two sides were close. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman vehemently disagreed.

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by Michael Baldwin
Reporter
Mike Baldwin has been a sports reporter for The Oklahoman since 1982. Mike graduated from Okmulgee High School in 1974 and attended Oklahoma Christian University, graduating with a journalism degree in 1978. Mike's first job was sports editor...
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