When the league decided to cancel regular season games for the first half of December and the 2013 All-Star Game on Friday, many hockey fans became even less optimistic about the 2012-13 season.
The owners need to ask themselves how much winning this lockout is worth. Why risk future revenue and popularity growth just to force the players to make more small concessions on the "make whole" provision and player contract rights?
The NHL is moving in the right direction and gaining traction in major American markets at an impressive rate.
Both sides must pay more attention to the future consequences that a longer work stoppage and a cancelled season will have on the league.
It's certainly important to focus on the present, but the potential damage that this lockout could have on the future of the sport must be taken into consideration during negotiations.
The financial success of both the owners and players will be greatly impacted by the fans' interest and support of the game moving forward.
If the NHL negotiates off the players' last proposal, which was a the best proposal that has been offered from the NHLPA thus far (from the league's point of view), then a deal could be done in the near future considering the two sides are close enough to bridge the gap on the critical issues.
Learning that the two sides could get back to the bargaining table this week is good news as the lockout nears two and a half months in length, but there's no reason to meet if the owners aren't going to negotiate.
There should only be CBA talks if both sides are willing to bargain, and not just listen to the other side's offer and say "thanks, but no thanks."
The next offer needs to come from the owners. They must move slightly in the union's direction to create the level of negotiating needed to reach a new CBA and play a shortened season as soon as possible.