There is growing concern among some inside hockey that at this point, the sport's fans have checked out. They may have stuck around for the traditional CBA negotiations, but now that we're entering the lawsuit-filing portion of the program, interests are turning elsewhere. One player described his feeling as numb, which is an apt description because it just doesn't seem plausible that two sides so close to making a deal could suddenly appear so far apart.
The optimism of even a week ago is gone, replaced by labor-board filings and a sudden, complete lack of discussion between the NHL and the NHLPA. We're on a path this week to more canceled games, pushing into January, news of tallied votes on the NHLPA moving closer to a disclaimer of interest and, ultimately, a wiped-out season.
But if you prefer to believe these negotiations had to reach their ugliest depths before finding a solution and that only at its darkest moments would we reach a positive conclusion, then there's good news. We're closing in on those depths.
So how did it get to this point? How in the world did two sides take a sport with so much momentum and hurl it into the courthouse?
Remove all the emotion and it's quite simple, suggested Penn State sports law scholar Stephen Ross.
To read more from Craig Custance and get access to all of Insider's NHL content, sign up today.