We are at a tipping point.
The NHL and NHLPA had talks in the middle of last week to see where both sides stood after the epic collapse of talks the week before. Two weeks ago, fans thought that a season was more than likely to occur. Now two weeks later, the season doesn't seem capable of being saved.
Both sides played a glorified game of telephone after a mediator was brought in.
Each side only communicated to each other through the mediator, and when the dust settled two days later, the outlook was just as bleak as it was two weeks prior. The NHL left a "take it or leave it" offer on the table, and the NHLPA was not inclined to move very much in the owners' direction.
The NHLPA sees decertification of the union and an anti-trust lawsuit against the NHL as its only option. The NHLPA executive board has given the players the right to authorize the move if they see fit, and the NHL is already acting as if it will vote in favor of the disclaimer of interest.
So what does this mean?
It means that the NHL and NHLPA will settle the lockout in court.
If the NHLPA wins, then the lockout will be deemed illegal and fans will see professional hockey this year. But if the NHL wins, then the lockout comes back with a vengeance and the owners will want even more than they want now.
But perhaps the biggest consequence of decertification would be the league's response. The NHL will most likely cancel the entire 2012-2013 season.
By canceling the season, the NHL will have all the time it wants in court.
It can drag out the trial, try to find loopholes and slow down the NHLPA, which will want to end the trial as soon as possible in case a season can be salvaged.
Canceling the season also sends a message to the players, saying that if they want to bring out the big guns, so can the NHL.
Decertifying the NHLPA will cause the lockout to become even more of a trench war, making both sides get gritty to "win" the battle. However, the lockout should not be viewed as a "win/lose situation" but rather what is better for the sport.
If the union decertifies, it will surely be the end of the 2012-2013 season.
But what is the most amazing thing about the lockout is that both sides let their egos get in the way of potentially playing a season.