The second NHL lockout in seven years will begin in less than 12 hours, a product of a frustrating sports league and the solidarity of the players and those that will pay the biggest price reside on neither side of the issue.
The fans, the ones that love this sport so dearly, face the possibility of a significant portion of this season being lost. Whether it's just five games or 50, the simple fact is that it will be too much for many to stand. The fans returned following the first lockout because we were led to believe the NHL had changed for the better, that things would be better this time -- and here we are, going through the same thing all over again.
Those that rely on these NHL games fro their well-being, not the players and not the owners, will be paying the ultimate price. The ushers and concession workers that rely on those paychecks for their well being will have a significant portion of their income lost with each game that is not played.
The employees of the teams, who support this league in the background, have no guarantee their job will survive a prolonged lockout.
This is an outcome that could have been avoided. Both sides claim they never wanted a lockout and both sides claim the other is using the lockout as leverage. This is just business and the fans should not take it personally, but I worry just how many fans will return this time around should the lockout be for any significant amount of time.
I worry that we'll see a year wasted where the Dallas Stars had the chance to do something special.
I worry that this franchise will suffer more than most if there is a long delay to the season.
I should feel anger, but mostly I feel sadness. A sadness that once again, the most passionate fans in North America will have what they love so dearly taken away from them because of stubbornness and pride.
Let the long wait begin.