Some key dates on the NHL schedule revealed, plus the latest on Drew Doughty, Nicklas Backstrom, John Tavares,  Adam Henrique and more.

SPORTSNET.CA: Mark Spector predicts the new NHL CBA will lead either to relocation or contraction of some struggling US-based franchises.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe he’s right. Key is the lack of significant improvement in revenue-sharing. Unless those franchises can significantly reverse their fortunes over the course of this CBA, two or more could be relocated. Contraction is possible, but the league will fight that tooth and nail, preferring to move franchises.

Luke Fox recently posted significant dates on the upcoming NHL schedule. The regular season, of course, is slated to begin January 19 and end on April 27. The Stanley Cup playoffs would begin May 1, with the final game ending on June 28.  It’s believed the NHL trade deadline could be Wednesday, April 3. The NHL Entry Draft is slated for June 28-29 in New Jersey, though it’s speculated those dates could be pushed into July.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There should be more details when the league officially releases its schedule on Sunday. It’s been rumored the trade deadline could be April 5, but that’s on a Friday, and traditionally it’s been held at mid-week. I’ve also heard the playoffs could end on June 25, in which case there might not be any need to change the dates of the entry draft. Nothing confirmed yet as to when the start of free agency would be. I suspect it”s remain July 1, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the date were changed to mid-July if the entry draft is moved into that month. Stay tuned.

THE SPORTING NEWS: Sean Gentille doesn’t see selling NHL merchandise at a reduced rate is less about winning back fans and more about some teams trying to clear merchandise which didn’t move over the Christmas period because of the lockout.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree. If NHL teams truly wish to convey their sincere apologies to their fans for the lockout, they should offer up ticket discounts or reduced prices for concessions. Most won’t, of course, because they’re scrambling to make as much money as they can from this shortened season.

Doughty prepared to take next step in his development.

Doughty prepared to take next step in his development.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Kings defenseman Drew Doughty is prepared to take the next time toward becoming a Norris contending defenseman, reporting for training camp physically and mentally prepared for the upcoming shortened season.

NATIONAL POST: Sean Pronger, promoting his new book “Journeyman”, believes the career of his brother Chris has been ended by concussion symptoms.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sean isn’t speaking for Chris, but this is the first time someone close to the Flyers former captain has stated what many observers believe about Pronger’s status.

ANAHEIM DUCKS: yesterday officially announced former captain Scott Niedermayer has joined the Ducks as an assistant coach.

WASHINGTON TIMES: Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom was cleared for a concussion by a neurologist, and skated Friday at the club’s practice facility, declaring himself fully recovered from a neck injury suffered recently in the KHL.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Capitals fans, you may now exhale in relief.

NEW YORK POST: Islanders star John Tavares is glad he spent the lockout playing in Switzerland.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most of those players who spent the lockout performing in other leagues will be better prepared for the upcoming shortened season than those who spent time at home training and practicing.

NJ.COM: Injured Devils sophomore Adam Henrique hopes to return from a thumb injury by early-February.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Jochen Hecht has agreed to a one-year contract with the Sabres and is returning to the club this weekend.

MIAMI HERALD: Enforcer George Parros hopes to bring leadership and experience, as well as toughness, to the Florida Panthers. Parros signed with the Panthers last summer as an unrestricted free agent.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Anders Lindback has made a full recovery from stitches on his right knee suffered last month during a practice in Finland.

BOSTON GLOBE: The Bruins have invited veteran forward Jay Pandolfo to training camp for a tryout.