At first it was only supposed to last until the American Thanksgiving weekend.
Then it was to end by Dec. 1, then in time for Christmas.
But increasingly it seems like the NHL owners and players are unlikely to reach an agreement on a collective agreement before the new year, if at all.
Ominously, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said if the league can’t get the players to agree to a new contract in time to salvage a 48-game season, there won’t be one and the dispute will fester.
What’s a hockey-starved fan to do?
Contrary to popular paranoia, the country’s economy hasn’t collapsed. Nor have those of cities whose NHL arenas are dark and shuttered. In fact, the Bank of Montreal’s deputy chief economist said employment in the accommodation and food services industry in Canada actually increased in November.
The attempt by various TV networks to fill their scheduling void with rebroadcasts of “classic” games has been little more than a curiosity that reminds us how much slower the game used to be and how far we’ve come in TV technology.
Teams in minor and junior leagues have enjoyed increased attention from media and fans looking for their regular hockey fix. Some, like the Vancouver Giants and Abbotsford Heat, are offering discount ticket packages to showcase their product to more people, building a bigger fan base for the future.
Even the SFU Clan hockey team is ratcheting up its marketing, hosting its first Great Northwest Showcase against teams from UBC, Arizona State and Oklahoma universities at Burnaby’s Copeland Arena in late December.
There’s still plenty of hockey out there for diehards to enjoy. The NHL owners and players might want to keep that in mind.