Brad Penner-US PRESSWIRE
The two sides meet again on Wednesday, with more uncertainty about whether or not a deal will be struck. Want to know what's not uncertain? The end of this mess is coming soon.
I can't even count how many "vital days" we've had during the 2012 NHL lockout. And 90% of the time, those vital days haven't been important at all. And, the 10% of the time that the meetings happend to actually be vital, talks broke down.
Which is exactly why Wednesday's talks, which should give us a good idea about whether or not Gary Bettman was bluffing when he said "everything" was off the table. Obviously if that's true then the season is over. No doubt about that. But if it was an in-the-moment threat, an attempt to break the Union quickly, then today might produce something useful.
From day one there hasn't been a single day where any positive thoughts or feelings have been assured. Generally the negativity has been the most prominent, thus the easiest to predict. The result? Fans have been on an emotional roller coaster that has been so wild and crazy you could probably make the NHL's $3.3 billion by letting people hop on for a ride.
Whch is why in the coming days this madness will be coming to a merciful end. That doesn't mean a deal will be struck, it just means that one way or another fans will have their answer. There either will be a season or there won't be. And you know what? That peace will probably be nice. This entire situation has been hard on fans -- sure -- but it's been much harder on concession workers and business that thrive on the business the NHL brings in. The two sides haven't taken that into consideration to this point, so I doubt they will now.
But again, it will end soon. Granted if they don't come to an agreement then we get to go through this the entire summer again. But the waters will calm for now.
The moment is coming, and it's coming soon. The only question is which way will it go.