Thursday's proceedings confirmed the inevitable. A lockout is coming. Gary Bettman made a point of mentioning that the owners are unanimous in their stance; they will not extend the current CBA beyond Saturday's deadline. In case there was any doubt, a vote was taken during Thursday's board of governors meeting.
The players were even more public with their display of unanimity. They put their preseason training on pause, 283 men in all, to show up in New York and throw their support behind NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr.
Both sides are united, both sides are entrenched. Right now.
Whether there will be a lockout is only a matter of timing. The league has every intention of locking the doors at 11:59 p.m. Saturday.
After addressing reporters in New York on Thursday, Bettman's final words echoed how grim the news was this week.
"Hope to see you all soon," he said. "And I hope it's with better news next time."
Now the question becomes this: When will that good news occur? When will this lockout end?
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