Let's be honest. Despite the efforts of the league's most recent proposal during formal negotiations, both sides continue to seem very far apart.
A third work stoppage is a bitter pill to swallow. In a competitive marketplace where hockey continues to play the role of little brother to the big three, it's difficult to justify killing the momentum. As the league comes off a year of record-breaking revenues, a restored franchise is reigniting a city and efforts are being taken to ensure that the NHL becomes the leader in acceptance within the sporting world.
See, Gary Bettman? This is why we can't have nice things.
Here are a few special cases for 10 on-ice pros that may be affected by the lockout.
Jaromir Jagr -- The Stars agreed to terms with Jagr this past July with the hope that the veteran winger could help produce the spark that has eluded Dallas, despite his age. While Jagr tallied 54 points in Philadelphia, he also played on a line with arguably the best center in the NHL. If Dallas does decide to take the 40-year-old for another spin after 2012, don't expect that wonky groin of his to hold up -- especially under the stress of one of the worst travel schedules in the league. Remember, he has never played for a Western Conference team.
Ilya Bryzgalov -- There's a reason only a small percentage of NHL goalies join the exodus overseas: rink dimensions. The KHL does not have a standard in place for its ice rinks. Russia follows the trend of European leagues, meaning that the width is typically wider than NHL standards, and blue lines are moved back to make room for a larger neutral zone. For a goalie, that means squaring up to a shooter is much different than what he is accustomed to. Different angles don't translate well to the NHL, and they allow room for bad habits to seep into a goaltender's play. When Bryz returns, be prepared for him to work out the kinks.
Sidney Crosby -- As the face of the National Hockey League, Sid's health has been a hot topic since his concussion in 2011. Whether he is healthy enough to withstand a full NHL schedule is still a big, fat question mark. As Puck Daddy has noted, over Crosby's sixth, seventh and eighth seasons he had amassed just 40 goals and 103 points due to injury and labor strife. Over the same three seasons of his career, Gretzky recorded 212 goals and 628 points. Will another work stoppage limit Crosby's legacy? It's the skill players that come along once in a blue moon that dazzle us with runs at records, regardless of our allegiances. (And I, as a Rangers fan, hate that I am even writing this.)
Braden Holtby -- Washington's goaltending carousel came to a brief halt when Holbty flexed his skills between the pipes in the postseason. Though posting a modest record before elimination, Holtby was adequate in the playoffs, stopping a potent Boston offense and looking more confident than most Capitals goaltenders within the past few seasons. With Michal Neuvirth gunning for a starting spot -- and certain that he will win it -- can Holtby ride the momentum he found last year with a missed season in between?
Tim Thomas -- Is anyone really sure what will happen to Tim Thomas? Thomas loaded a huge distraction onto his teammates thanks to his Facebook proclivities and decided to take a year off from hockey, despite leaving his salary on the books to eat up cap space. Will any GM be willing to take a chance on an aging goaltender if he decides to come back next year? (Paging Scott Howson) If a lockout cancels the season, does Thomas get to have his cake and eat it too?
Jarome Iginla -- Iginla will be a UFA by the end of the 2012-13 season, but his future is uncertain. Will the 15-year veteran stick it out in the perpetual rebuilding stage that has become the Calgary Flames? Iginla could definitely use this season as a bargaining chip in any future negotiations.
Teemu Selanne -- The Finnish Flash has been toying with the idea of retirement for quite some time, and is currently the oldest skater in the league. Selanne is an incredible player, and a year off certainly won't do him any good. Like many things, you often miss what you had once it's gone.
Corey Perry -- With a Hart trophy to his name, Perry is slated to become an unrestricted free agent by the end of the year, and you can bet the 27-year-old will be looking to lock up a big deal. But was his 98-point season in 2011 just an outlier? Perry's point production average throughout seven seasons in the NHL sits at 61 points. He will have to prove himself if he wants the big bucks, and this was the year for him to do it.
Stephen Gionta -- Gionta earned a two-year deal this July after seven years in the minors. The 28-year old journeyman has played in just 13 NHL games since 2010, but he finally found his chance to shine on the Devil's fourth line after a promising postseason. The first year of his new contract -- a one-way deal at $525,000 -- will be eaten up by a lockout. The second, a two-way deal at $600,000, means that Gionta may make substantially less if sent back to the AHL. That's a total bummer for a guy who has walked a long, hard road.
Jordan Eberle -- Just 22-years-old, Eberle rests on the cusp of a breakout year. With two seasons of experience under his belt, Eberle leads Edmonton's youth movement and is capable of becoming one of the league's most potent offensive threats, especially on the power play. Should the 2012-13 season be lost to a lockout, expect Eberle to be robbed of a season that could have seen him finally emerge as one of the league's elite.
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Follow Jason St. Angelo on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@jaysaintny