The NHL announced that it will cancel games through Dec. 30, which means that the entire season could be in jeopardy.
Darren Dreger of TSN reported the latest news to disappointed hockey fans:
Further NHL regular season cancellations today. Thru Dec 30th.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) December 10, 2012
This brings the total amount of games canceled to 526 (528 if you include the Winter Classic and the All-Star Game).
Losing the high-profile matchups might have angered fans, but now the quantity of canceled games is getting too great to overcome.
To make matters worse, union chief Donald Fehr believes that this lockout is not going to be resolved quickly, according to Rich Chere of the Star-Ledger:
Don Fehr: "It looks like this is not going to be resolved in the immediate future."— Rich Chere (@Ledger_NJDevils) December 7, 2012
With only around 50 games remaining on the current schedule for each team, the NHL is close to reaching a point of no return.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman previously said it would not be worth it to play fewer than 48 games (via Katie Strang of ESPN):
#CBA Bettman said he could not envision playing less than 48 games— Katie Strang (@KatieStrangESPN) December 7, 2012
This is the amount of games that was played during the shortened season of 1995, and it is believed to be the minimum number for this year.
With the NHL close to this breaking point, and negotiations far apart, things do not look good for hockey to resume this season.
Of course, this might be the worst possible scenario for fans, players and the teams.
Will the NHL play this season?
The two sides have been negotiating under the mindset that there is a constant deadline. Money is being lost every time games are canceled, so the league and players' union have some motivation to finalize a deal.
Unfortunately, this has not led to any positive developments.
If the season is officially canceled, it will delay talks even more. Nothing will drive either side to come to an agreement, and fans will be left waiting even longer.
Considering how far these leaders are from reaching a decision, this process could drag on for months—possibly into the start of next season.
This means that the next few weeks will be vital towards ending this lockout.
The NHL and NHLPA must work harder to achieve a new CBA in order to save this season, and to save hockey in North America for the upcoming future.