The lockout is approaching an entire month lost to CBA negotiations, and this week represents a big milestone as the NHL regular season was expected to kick off this weekend.
The NHL and NHLPA have agreed to speak this week, and thats an encouraging sign. But both sides are also stuck at an impasse over core economic issues as the NHL wont entertain further negotiations until the players agree to some form of cuts from last years 1.87 billion slice of the Hockey Revenue pie.
It doesnt appear there will be progress until the NHL shows some bend so instead the AHL is set to debut this weekend and college hockey kicked off last weekend as New England's hockey placeholders in the NHLs absence.
The NHL has ticked off some fans with another work stoppage so soon after an entire year was lost to the 2004-05 labor war, and theyve pounded Gary Bettman and the NHL owners with impunity on social media avenues like Twitter and Facebook.
The most notably upset fans? The celebrities, of course.
The NHL loves to trot out their celebrity fans during the regular season and they get a spotlight during the Stanley Cup Finals while rooting for their favorite team. But the puck love of celebrities can be a double-edged sword, and many of those same familiar faces have taken to Twitter to express their displeasure with the NHL over the last few weeks.
Heres a sampling of those tweets while admitting that none of these celebrities exactly qualify as A-list, but theyre all superstars when it comes to the Twitter word:
The Iron Sheik: Famous WWF wrestler and bon vivant
NHL deserve german suplex and camel clutch The Iron Sheik (@the_ironsheik) September 16, 2012
Wil Wheaton: Played Wesley Crusher on Star Trek and was in the classic movie Stand By Me
I turned on NHL13, and Gary Bettman came on my screen telling me the entire game is locked DLC. I offered to pay, but he wanted 57 more. Wil Wheaton (@wilw) September 30, 2012
Dave Coulier: Joey on Full House, with many smartly suggesting he should have told the NHL to cut it out
Hey @nhl you're not just locking out the players, but all the fans and workers as well. Dave Coulier (@DaveCoulier) September 17, 2012
Colin Hanks: Actor, son of Tom Hanks and big Los Angeles Kings fans
(12) Bummed that more NHL games have been cancelled due to lock out. But the little thought of fact that really stings? Colin Hanks (@ColinHanks) October 5, 2012
(22) This NHL lockout also means no billboard campaign this year with images of the LAKINGS holding the STANLEY CUP over their heads Colin Hanks (@ColinHanks) October 5, 2012
On one level, the anger and frustration is a good sign, but what has to concern the NHL is that so many other fans are turning the page and moving on without hockey. Theres a kind of indifference and a lockout-weariness that appears to be setting in with a fan base thats been left at the altar one too many times. Once games are missed and that really begins to catch hold, then anger turns into apathy, and the NHL will truly be killing a golden goose that poured 3.3 billion into their coffers last season.
Thats got to be a scary thought for the guy named Bettman thats pulling the levers and pushing all the buttons behind the curtain right now.