For the second time in eight years, hockey fans across North America are being forced to endure an NHL lockout. As owners and players fight over the distribution of money, fans are left to wonder when their favorite team will take the ice again.
Fans are smart enough to understand that above all else the sport is just like any other business, striving to increase profits. That's why so few people were surprised the lockout started after a summer of failed negotiations.
What's causing the frustration from fans is the lack of progress being made when the two sides meet to discuss a new deal. CBS Sports reports the latest talks occurred on Tuesday with basically nothing getting accomplished.
That's what is causing fans to voice their concerns more adamantly than they did last time. They don't want to watch another entire season get wiped away and are trying to make that clear to both sides early in the process.
The first two weeks of the regular season have already been lost and a drastic turnaround would have to occur to avoid more cuts in the coming weeks. With the last lockout still fresh in the minds of fans, it's like a recurring nightmare.
If the two sides were meeting on a consistent basis and taking steps, even baby steps, toward an ultimate resolution that would get the league back moving again, fans would probably be less vocal.
Instead, it's like the representatives for each side are engaged in a staring contest waiting for the other side to blink. No progress. Charged comments to the media. And a fanbase that is tired of being overlooked.
Do you think there will be a season?
Sure, the true diehards are probably going to come back no matter if the lockout lasts two months or two years, but that's not the case for everybody. Especially the new fans that started to enjoy the game after the last Winter Olympics.
That group of supporters, which isn't yet emotionally attached like lifelong fans, will be much quicker to move on to something else. They aren't going to wait around for the NHL to figure out how to split millions.
Moreover, the constant cycle of hope ahead of a meeting followed by the disappointment of both sides acknowledging a lack of movement will eventually start to wear down even the biggest fans.
Hopefully, the league and players realize that before it's too late to salvage the season. The fans have already been through so much over the past decade and deserve better than another lost year.