The 2012 NHL lockout is now over a week old and there is no end in sight.
It's unfortunate that fans can say they are used to this feeling with two previous lockouts that lasted half-a-season and a full season. With two very stubborn businessmen in Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr in charge of the NHL and NHLPA respectively, things certainly don't look good.
With many things for the two sides to agree upon, it is hard to believe that the NHL regular season can begin on time.
Here are five of the biggest talking points that the two sides will be discussing during the lockout.
The biggest arguing point between the players and the owners—the sharing of hockey-related revenue—will be the issue that keeps the lockout going the longest.
The players have had a 57 percent split of the hockey-related revenue, with the owners getting the remaining 43 percent. The owners clearly want to get a bigger piece of the pie. It's also one of the few issues fans are likely to agree with them on.
As soon as the two sides agree to the logical 50-50 split, the lockout will end.
It's easy to forget that when the previous CBA began, the salary cap was set at $39 million. It has now grown to what was a projected cap of $70.2 million.
The owners however, want to reset the clock somewhat.
The owner's first proposal to the players included a cap hit of $58 million, which is only $1.4 million down from what the cap was in the 2010-11 season. It's not going down a huge amount in NHL terms, but it's enough to cause some trouble with more than half the league.
15. 14. 13. 10. 9.
All these are the length of contracts in years that have been signed during the previous lockout. The owners, sick of themselves giving out these contracts, want a limitation placed on contract length.
Whether that comes into effect is unknown. With five years being the limit in the owner's first proposal, the owners quickly snapped up eight players for six years each.
I would not be surprised if the players are able to talk the owners out of this.
There was recently a report that Gary Bettman would cancel this year's Winter Classic in November to keep the players from using it at as leverage in negotiations (via thestar.com).
In recent years, the Winter Classic has been an event that Bettman knew was a money-maker and a way to bring in the casual fan with the HBO series, 24/7.
This year, all of a sudden, the game is of little importance to him.
What looked like a huge talking point in the last few years, the NHL player's participation in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi has taken a back seat.
With the Olympics taking place in Russia, stars from that country like Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin have already said that they would go regardless of the NHL's decision. If the NHL decides not to allow players and players like Ovechkin and Malkin go to the Olympics, the NHL will be forced to suspend two of their biggest stars.
However, the Olympics are probably being used as a bargaining chip by Bettman in order to get something else he wants.
These five points are what will keep the 2012-13 season from starting anytime soon. Hopefully, these two sides will realize that a second canceled season in eight years would damage the fanbase irreparably.
However, Gary Bettman is willing to go that far to get what he wants. Hockey fans can only hope that the season begins eventually.
While in negotiations like this, it's impossible to predict how long the lockout will continue. If I was forced to predict when it ends, it will be in November with the two sides coming to an agreement to save the Winter Classic.
But that is still an optimistic prediction.