The next couple weeks are absolutely crucial to the CBA negotiations between the NHL and its players. It's during this time we'll get a very strong indication as to whether the two sides can find common ground quickly or if we're in this lockout for the long haul. And the long haul is starting to gain steam.
"The owners are going for the jugular," suggested one pessimistic source.
What seemed like a long shot six months ago, when the league enjoyed an exciting regular season race to the playoffs and then one of the most unpredictable postseasons in recent memory, is looking like a possibility -- another lost year of NHL hockey.
It's been seven years since the last lockout but for those who went through it as players, it's still fresh. The sting of losing millions and a year off your career may never ease. But was it worth it?
That depends on which former player you ask.
Mike Modano was among those hurt the most financially by a lockout. He estimates it cost him over $7 million in lost salary, not to mention stats from career totals that will still go down as some of the best of all-time.
He would have reached 1,500 games played; instead he retired at 1,499. He would likely have registered more than 1,400 career points. Still, his 1,374 points were more than any other American-born player.
The losses from the 2004-05 lockout aren't getting any easier to take in retirement.
"It was a waste of time," Modano said. "We thought we were stronger than we were. We started falling apart as the months clicked by."
He heard and maybe even originally believed the argument that standing firm was for the good of the game, for those who follow you as players.
It rings a bit hollow now that his career is over.
"You're only in the game so long," he said. "You want to leave a legacy for the next guys, but still ... it was upsetting. I think we're still all bitter it took a whole year to get to the point we got."
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