NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is dealing with the third lockout in 19 years.
While the NHL should currently be heading into its third month of play with December right around the corner, NHL Players Association members and owners met Wednesday over two sessions at the League's NHL Office, according to NHL.com.
Over the course of the first meeting, the union offered a proposal to the league in hopes of gaining ground on signing a new collective bargaining agreement.
The league then reviewed the union's proposal in a second session that lasted nearly two hours.
While news of meetings and talks between the two sides is a good sign for fans and players, people are weary and tired of seeing the same old song and dance.
The NHL has already cancelled 327 games as a result of the lockout, including the scheduled Winter Classic game between the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium set for January 2nd, 2013.
It's no secret that hockey fans want the dispute to end and the puck to be dropped.
Sports news outlets have been reporting since September, when the lockout started, of on-again off-again negotiations between the two sides, resulting in a deal not being reached and games being cancelled.
Fans aren't the only ones who are paying the price, as the NHL is surely losing money for every game not being played.
Speaking to the media following the meetings, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman stated that the league was losing $18 million per day. Not small change, to say the least.
Ultimately, the NHL rejected the union's newest offer, something that shouldn't come as much of surprise to fans.
It seems as if the league is headed for a repeat of 2004 all over again, where the 2004-05 season was cancelled completely due to a lack of a new collective bargaining agreement.
Even though the season is currently scheduled to begin on December 1 as a shortened campaign of 66 games per team, the hope is nearly nonexistent.
With so little time left to work with, there may not be a season to save.
The NHL knows the consequences, and it knows that it can't do the same thing to hockey and fans as it did when it cancelled the 2004-05 season.
When the league signed the new collective bargaining agreement in July of 2005 to bring hockey back, fans were excited. The league benefited from that excitement, and the sport grew tremendously over the next six years.
Seeing record ratings and revenues, as well as attendance, the NHL caught some luck when it shut the whole thing down and then returned after apologizing to fans for the hiatus.
However, that patience has worn thin, and the league is on a crash course to losing everything it worked for.
Three lockouts in 19 years is nothing to be proud of, and after the 2004 lockout, fans had hoped that it would be the last one for a long time. They didn't want to sit through more negotiations and more cancellations just a mere seven years later.
This lockout may be the one that pushes them over the brink.
Should the lockout end and play resume, fans will only have the thoughts of when the next lockout will be.
The NHL and the NHLPA have more than money and contracts to worry about. They have the fans and the future of hockey to worry about.
If they want to continue their success and help bring more interest and popularity to the NHL, they need to play.
It all comes down to patience.
The NHL ran out of patience when it imposed the lockout back in September, and the fans' patience is on thin ice (if not gone already).
Another year without hockey could ruin everything they worked for in the last six years and deal a devastating blow to the NHL