Just when NHL fans were getting enthusiastic about seeing the puck drop on a new season, the rug was pulled out from under them.
Recent developments between owners and players were sending positive vibes to those who still held out hopes that the entire season wouldn't be cancelled.
Any optimism has gone down the drain.
Larry Brooks of the New York Post has reported that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told players that some of the general managers would like to rip up some of the massive contracts they've awarded players in recent years.
Bettman refused to inform the players the identity of the general managers about which he was speaking.
This news comes after the league reportedly changed the rules of a recent proposal after Donald Fehr informed the NHL the players' union was disclaiming interest (via the Minneapolis Star Tribune).
No matter what you're opinion of Bettman, Fehr deserves some blame for the state of negotiations between the two sides as well.
He was an extremely tough opponent for Bud Selig when Fehr was the director of the MLB Player's Association. Many baseball fans will also cringe at the mention of his name.
The league shouldn't get all of the blame for the fact that the NHL is still under a lockout. However, it's news like what Brooks reported that makes fans side with the players 100 percent.
The players should be insulted by the fact that general managers want to rip up some contracts. It's an act of complete disrespect.
Can the NHL Season Be Saved?
If a team gave a player a poor contract, that's the team's fault.
Maybe the Minnesota Wild should have thought a little harder about that 13-year, $98 million contract, in addition to the numerous other long-term deals that were previously created to try and game the system.
It's understandable that owners and general managers would want to try and adapt to what could be a $60 million salary cap.
But it's the wrong move to simply eliminate whatever contracts are unfriendly. Doing that would erode much of the faith that players might have in the owners.
This just represents how far apart league and players are at this point. And it's especially devastating when you consider the clock is ticking on saving the season.
January 11 is the last possible day that a deal could be made. It would allow a 48-game season to start on the 19th (via The New York Times).
Fans will of course still be able to watch hockey this year. But it's almost certainly not going to be under the banner of the NHL.