ICING NOT SO SWEET: The NHL lockout’s freeze has permanently cancelled the 2013 Winter Classic. Photo courtesy Rick Osentoski/US PRESSWIRE

Quick! What does our daily sunlight and the 2012 NHL season have in common?

Answer: They’re both getting shorter by the day.

Now a month and a half into the labor stoppage, the best way to think of the hockey season were missing is like a big log being pitted against a wood chipper. The longer it takes for a new collective bargaining agreement to be signed, the more the tree is being turned into sawdust.

The latest branch to go is the Winter Classic, that game on New Year’s Day where pro hockey teams take the ice outdoors like mother nature intended. This year, the two teams slated for the event were the Red Wings and Maple Leafs with Detroit being the home team of sorts up in Ann Arbor at Michigan Stadium (where the Maize and Blue play football).

Of course, that’s all gone now, and the death of the 2013 Winter Classic is important for two reasons. First, the game is the highlight of the regular season, some say even more so than the All-Star Game. So for the event to be cancelled is essentially to bring about the worst cancellation in the work stoppage thus far. Even if it was only three periods.

Secondly, the cancellation means this lockout has officially spread its damage over into the next calendar year. While we already knew, at best, we were only going to have a partial season, it’s been made clear now that yet another month has been irreparably hurt by this feud between the league and the players’ association.

Now it’s worth noting that this doesn’t necessarily mean there won’t be pro hockey games on the first day of the new year. The Winter Classic was cancelled for a number of reasons and contractual obligations and logistics played a huge role in the cause of death. However, both sides seem, at best, lukewarm to the notion that an end to the work stoppage is anywhere near, meaning more of the tree is likely to hit the grinder before someone hits the off button.

I’ve said from the get-go that it is very likely the entire 2012-2013 NHL season will be cancelled and these latest developments only reaffirm those suspicions. Two days ago, we officially entered November and the hockey season should’ve been in full swing. But instead of both sides scurrying for a compromise as if their hemorrhaging money by the day (which they are), the NHL and NHLPA seem perfectly content sitting in opposite corners and sulking while time runs down.

The reason why this is so frustrating is because the only REAL casualty here are the hockey fans. Losing money to the lockout isn’t taking any food off these owners’ tables and the players, especially those now over in the KHL, are probably finding the whole fiasco to be but a little inconvenience.

But for the guy in the foam finger and replica jersey, there is no silver lining. Every day he or she wakes up now, pro hockey isn’t being played, and that’s just the cold, hard truth. They don’t want to watch Russian hockey and some fans — the diehards, anyway — don’t want to settle for other sports.

For them, this most recent NHL lockout is nothing more than a bunch of rich guys fighting over pieces of pie you and I couldn’t even imagine owning. It’s only a matter of time before some damage like the integrity of the league can’t be undone, and both sides would be wise to figure that out sooner rather than later.

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NOTE: This story was originally published on SportsHead. To read this article and others click here.
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