The lockout is a week long, so you are probably tired of hearing about hockey-related revenue (HRR), about revenue sharing to save franchises that can't control their own spending, and the millionaire players and billionaire owners explain their woe-is-me positions.
But, sadly, that's where we are - locked in a labor dispute that hasn't had formal talks in the last 11 days.
Can it be resolved quickly? Only if both sides are willing to actually get to the bargaining table and compromise.
Will it be resolved quickly? Probably not, because both sides seem adamant (read: stubborn) in their positions.
Why the players are playing hardball
Annual revenue grew from $2.1 billion at the start of the last collective-bargaining agreement to a record $3.3 billion at the end of it. Armed with those numbers and hearing NHL commissioner Gary Bettman chirp that the game has never been healthier, the players don't understand why they are being asked to take much less of the pie in a redone CBA.
They will receive, on average, a $204,000 escrow check next month based on their 2011-12 salary. Hey, it's not the $2.5 million the players are averaging, but you would think it will get them through the year. Right?
They signed their contracts, fair and square, and are thus refusing to take substantial salary rollbacks through escrow. The players are the honorable ones in this dispute, one in which the owners say the last CBA was terrible. Those same owners rushed to sign players to more than $200 million in the final 48 hours before the "lousy" CBA expired on Sept. 15.
Why the owners are playing hardball
They think the fans will flock back to arenas like they did after the 2004-05 lockout. In the season before that stoppage, the NHL averaged 16,534 fans per game, according to STATS. The year after that lockout, attendance increased to 16,954. Last season, the league averaged 17,454 fans per game.
They say more than half of the league's 30 teams are losing money and that they need to stop the bleeding. (Never mind that some of those "poor" teams handed out contracts between $98 million and $110 million.)
They rightfully think the players are unrealistic when asking for around 53 to 54 percent of the HRR pool, pointing out that players in the NFL (48 percent) and the NBA (50 percent) receive less - and those sports have TV contracts that aren't in the same stratosphere as the NHL's. The NHL averages $200 million per year from NBC. That's small potatoes compared to the annual TV deals for the NFL ($3 billion) and the NBA ($930 million).
Why the league should be concerned
The three lockouts have alienated a huge number of fans who say their patience is running out. Some fans are saying a shortened schedule is actually more attractive than an 82-game slate, and they will happily get their sports fix from college and pro football, and Major League Baseball's postseason.
Many of the league's stars, including Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin, are playing in Russia and collecting nice paychecks. Is it far-fetched to think that some of them, fed up with the work stoppages, might decide to take the NHL to court and remain there?
Based on ratings, hockey on TV is about as popular as an ESPN poker tournament. The Los Angeles Kings' win over the New Jersey Devils in last season's Stanley Cup Finals averaged just 3 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research. By comparison, last year's World Series and NBA Finals each averaged more than 16 million viewers.
Why this can be resolved
The sides aren't ridiculously far apart in their hockey-related revenue proposal. The players want about 53-54 percent, while the owners are offering 49 percent during the first year of a six-year CBA that ends at 47 percent. The league would probably agree to a 50/50 split.
Both sides are willing to increase revenue sharing to aid teams that are struggling financially. There you go: common ground! The NHL currently shares about $150 million of its revenue and has said it will increase it to $190 million in the new CBA. The NHLPA wants to share $250 million. A source close to the NHL said that splitting the difference - and compromising at around $220 million - doesn't seem so outlandish.
Because the NHL knows it has a good thing going. In fact, in its own news release, the league said the conditions in the previous CBA had created competitive balance, and "remarkable" league growth - and put the game "at its best." If so, why all the proposed CBA changes - from shorter contracts to salary rollbacks to free-agency alterations?
Why this lockout could last
Even after the HRR and revenue-sharing issues are resolved, there are many other potential stumbling blocks that have been put on the back burner.
The NHL wants five-year maximum contracts and wants players to have 10 years of service before they become free agents. (Insert photo of Donald Fehr, the NHLPA executive director, rolling his eyes.)
Another issue that could cause a fight to the finish: the league's desire to make entry-level deals go from three to five years. If the players conceded to this, they would deserve a bigger chunk of the HRR. If they were not to accept it, maybe Bettman and Fehr could stage a winner-take-all wrestling match on the program-starved NHL Network.
It might even get better ratings than last year's Finals.
Contact Sam Carchidi at email@example.com, or follow on Twitter @BroadStBull.