STANDING PAT: Both sides, including Donald Fehr and the NHLPA, are clearly willing to let their standoff tank the hockey season. Photo courtesy Associated Press

It’s been a crappy end to the workweek for NHL fans. First, the players’ union turned down the owners’ offer to split league revenue 50-50. Then, the players’ union sent not one but three counteroffers, all of which the owners called “disappointing”.

And, as if the week wasn’t enough of a loss, yesterday the NHL announced that there would be no hockey through November 1st.

Now, as we sit here on October 20th, the news doesn’t seem too shocking. To call the two sides still “very far apart” might be the understatement of the century. The owners essentially split the difference between the two sides’ initial position with its 50-50 proposal and the NHLPA still said nope.

I don’t know what it’s going to take, but turning water into wine suddenly seems doable in juxtaposition.

No, the news of no October hockey isn’t that surprising. What’s surprising is that we’ve gotten here with so little of the problem resolved.

Think of the lockout like a speeding train that’s missed its mark. When we first saw the problem coming, we said, “Well, sure, it’s probably going to take at least that far down the tracks to stop this thing.” So we blew past the preseason and the first week or so of games, and now we’ve hit November and this runaway train hasn’t really slowed.

Every time we think we’ve switched on the brakes, something snaps and the whole thing lurches back to speed. It won’t be long before we’ve overshot 2012 altogether.

And it’s almost with some amusement that I hear the NHL just call the games “postponed”, meaning they haven’t ruled out some solution where an 82-game season is still played. Seriously? I threw out the chances of a full NHL season in August, and the league didn’t lock players out until September!

The NHL shouldn’t be dwelling on salvaging the season as a whole, but hanging onto whatever it can. The last time this happened, an entire season was lost. Now, as we near Halloween and jettison deeper into fall, a repeat cancellation appears more and more likely.

Look at the NHL players. They’ve fled for eastern hockey like North America has fallen into a world not unlike that portrayed in The Walking Dead. Do you think they jumped so quickly to the KHL thinking they’d be back in time to carve pumpkins? No way.

In fact, the player exodus is the only omen we need. Just three days ago, league superstar Alex Ovechkin said he doesn’t believe the season will begin next month. Yes, that’s right. They JUST officially cancelled October and Ovie’s saying “October? Ha! I’m thinking not even November.”

Which, of course, goes back to my speeding train analogy. NHL 2012 is looking a lot like Pelham 123. No, not with the hijacking, but at the end of the movie. Each one of those stop signals marks another set of cancelled games we’re blowing through. And that place where the track ends? That’s 2013, my friends, and we’re heading right for it.

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When Bryan isn’t writing, he is on Twitter! Make sure to give him a follow @bclienesch for NHL updates and other shenanigans.