Wayne Gretzky sees Jan. 1 start to season; A-Team goalie mask; Nail Yakupov talks emoticons (Puck Headlines)

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Move over Richard Bachman, above is your frontrunner for mask of the year. This is Allen Americans netminder Chris Whitley's lid for the 2012-13 season featuring he and three teammates as characters from the A-Team television show. (Darryl Bootland gets the honor of being B.A. Baracus.) The other side of the mask feature's Mr. T.'s van flying through an explosion. Amazing. [In Goal Mag]

• Wayne Gretzky was asked about the NHL lockout and he's optimistic about there actually being a season: "I believe in my heart, maybe because I'm such a big hockey fan, that they will be playing by Jan. 1" [Y! via CP]

• Adrian Dater on why he doesn't believe there will be a 2012-13 season: "It all comes down to this simple truth, to the players: no way in hell is the short, old guy with the New York accent who never played the game going to push them around this time. They have their rallying cry this time, and his name is Gary Bettman, and anything short of total victory over this man won't be acceptable to the rank-and-file of the NHL players union this time around." [All Things Avs]

• Jared Lundsford on why there will be a season. [NHL Numbers]

• Jim Devallano's comments that put him in hot water and the Detroit Red Wings out $250,000 began with an exchange on Facebook. [Sporting News via SBJ]

• Neate on 15-year old phenom Conor McDavid's early goings in the OHL. [Buzzing the Net]

• Today's "NHLers going to play in Europe" update: Thomas Vanek signs in Austria and Cody Franson inks a deal with Brynas in Sweden. Franson's contract, however, is for the entire season, not just the lockout. The former Toronto defenseman is currently a restricted free agent. (UPDATE: Mirtle has received confirmation that if there is an NHL season and Franson is able to work out a deal with a team, he can get out of his contract with Brynas.)

• Add Brandon Dubinsky to the list of NHLers heading to Alaska. He's signed a PTO with the Alaska Aces of the ECHL. Like Scott Gomez, this allows him to just practice with the team so the Aces avoid a roster violation. [Aces]

• It was only a matter of time before politicians got themselves involved in this lockout mess. New Jersey senators, Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez, have called for a deal to be made to help the city of Newark not lose millions of dollars in economic activity. [NorthJersey.com]

• Eric Duhatschek on Krys Barch's Twitter rant. [Globe and Mail]

• Meanwhile, Michael Traikos begins his column on Barch simply: "Krys Barch is an idiot." [National Post]

• Jeremy Welsh of the Carolina Hurricanes is hoping to be known for something other than having the NHL's highest cap hit of all time. [NHL.com]

• Please call when Ottawa Senators prospect Patrick Wiercioch took a shot to the throat last December, breaking a bone in the back of his neck. He's fully recovered and in camp with Binghamton of the AHL. "The sooner I pushed myself to get back, it kind of pushed that (incident) behind me quick. I honestly wasn't anywhere near 100% at the end of (last) year. I'd be a fool to say to that I was. I was trying to get through the season, each day and each practice, without thinking about it or worrying about where I was with my health. It was unfortunate the summer was so long, but it could have been a blessing in disguise that I got some time to let it heal and move forward."  [Ottawa Sun]

• Looking into the future of the Washington Capitals with their "Top-25 under 25" list. [Japers' Rink]

• No one dislikes Pavel Datsyuk, right? It's impossible. In the words of Helen Seinfeld, "How could anyone not like him?" [Backhand Shelf]

• Finally, this is from August, but how do you pass up an opportunity to post a video where Nail Yakupov, Twitter user extraordinaire, explains his emoticons?:

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