While NHL fans across the world are asking Santa Claus for their hockey back, the lockout will drag all the way into 2013 at the very least.
Add in the fact that the league’s players are becoming increasingly vocal with their distaste about the negotiation process, and the likelihood of even a partial regular season is greatly diminished.
The realization that there will likely be no hockey this season is setting in.
Negotiations between the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association continue to stall, and with both sides tentatively scheduled to meet again later this week (h/t Larry Brooks of the New York Post), there are many players that have begun to openly question the intention of the league and its commissioner, Gary Bettman.
Washington Capitals veteran Jason Chimera aired his grievances about the lockout to Chuck Gormley of CSNWashington.com:
This is all part of Gary Bettman’s book. He seems to be bent on ruining the game. If that’s what he’s out to do, he’s sure doing a good job of it. It’s disappointing. We’re willing to get a deal done and try to sit down and talk with no preconditions and they don’t want to talk.
If they set agendas, we’re done. We’ve got to start talking. We’re still not that far apart. It’s just a matter of getting it done. We want to sit down and they don’t want to meet at this point.
While league officials will claim that the NHL is doing everything in its power to get the season back as fast as possible, the players have claimed from the start that it is the owners and Bettman that refuse to make the necessary compromises to get a deal done.
No matter what caused the rift—if money is the real issue or if there is some sort of vendetta toward NHLPA executive director Don Fehr—the fact that both sides are close yet still haven’t gotten a deal done is flat-out infuriating.
Capitals forward Brooks Laich was also willing to share his opinions with CSN Washington:
Our guys really care about the game and it’s unfortunate we feel we’re not getting the same passion back from the other side. I hope they know something we don’t because I think we’re doing tremendous damage to the game and I don’t see any positive effect of what we’re doing right now. I’m hopeful a deal is there and we can get back on the ice because I think we’re just killing the game right now and I don’t understand it.
As much as Laich’s comments come from a man with a vested interest in the outcome of the negotiation process, his feelings are shared by almost every NHL fan in the world.
It is unclear what (if any) good is coming from this lockout, and every day without the sport is killing its international appeal.
The league knows it already has the hardcore hockey fans hooked and they will return whenever the puck drops, but the league has alienated all the fans it has worked so hart to convert over the last eight seasons.
With the players voicing their opinions so freely and with such candidness now, the raw emotion proves there are real doubts about whether a deal can be reached in time to save the season.
This is a bad situation that just keeps getting worse.
Check back for more on the National Hockey League as it comes, and don’t miss Bleacher Report’s NHL page to get your fill of all things hockey.