Well, we're here. After an entire summer of optimism and dread (in that order, and recycled over and over again) the NHL will descend into its third lockout of Gary Bettman's tenure, and the second lockout in less than a decade.
It's disappointing. Hell, it's really, really disappointing. A league which has shown such growth the past couple of the years will now be in limbo. How much this lockout will impact the league depends on how quickly the players get back on the ice.
The NBA proved last year that a half season doesn't hurt a league that much. Or even at all. A November or December start wouldn't be the worst thing in the world for the NHL. In fact, so long as they don't miss the Winter Classic, or the weeks leading up to the Winter Classic for HBO 24/7, everything should be fine.
Join me after the jump for more.
Of course, that's a positive outlook on the situation.
Despite the two sides being completely unable to find any type of middle ground, they're still talking. That's a massive positive, and a luxury the two sides didn't have the last time this happened in 2004. But the two sides aren't having formal meetings, they're simply sharing phone conversations to get a better understanding of the other's position and desires.
Again, it's a good thing, but not a great thing.
There's still time for the two sides to make an agreement before the deadline, but it would take a miracle at this point.
For now, enjoy the final couple of hours of non-locked out hockey.