Originally posted on The Rangers Tribune  |  Last updated 8/11/12

GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 16: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman speaks during a press conference before the NHL game between the Phoenix Coyotes and the Tampa Bay Lightning at Jobing.com Arena on November 16, 2009 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

We are now nearing the mid-point of August and the National Hockey League and its players have yet to come up with a new collective bargaining agreement for the 2012-13 season (expected). This prompted commissioner Gary Bettman to announce this past week that if a new deal is not in place by September 15, the season will be locked out, at least for the time being (also expected). The catch here is that the NHLPA has not submitted a counterproposal to the NHL's original offer made over a month ago (unexpected). 

That counterproposal is supposed to come as early as Tuesday, but again, we've been waiting a while now so don't be shocked if it does not. This, in my opinion, is why Bettman went ahead and made the announcement that there will be a lockout (which really did not require an announcement as long as people have common sense); he was just casually reminding the players and the NHLPA that the process must be sped up or the League will likely be facing the worst of consequences. 

These are all negotiating tactics that we've seen before, but now there is sincere concern that the 2012-13 season will not begin on time, or will not begin at all. If you think about it, weeks ago we were talking about how it was puzzling that the NHL was only presenting the second part of their original proposal to the NHLPA long after they placed part one onto the table. Now, here were are two weeks into August, and there is still no response from the players. Needless to say, that's extremely alarming. 

Wednesday will officially mark the middle of the month, as well as the one-month mark until the hard deadline set by the League. That leaves the two sides about four weeks to come up with an entire new CBA, and not only come up with one, but have it written out and signed by the appropriate representatives from each party. Yeah, I'm about as doubtful as you. 

And it's not only the time factor that's a concern, but it's also the fact that things don't appear to be going smoothly at all. This is a bitter battle, and Bettman's 'announcement', if you want to call it that, only added fuel to the already blazing fire. 

I'm sure most of you saw this frustrated tweet from Henrik Lundqvist yesterday:

The @nhl says they won’t play past Sept 15th under current deal. Apparently they don’t like the deal they designed. #CBA #nhlpa2012

— Henrik Lundqvist (@HLundqvist30) August 10, 2012

As well as this one from former Ranger Brandon Prust:

Disappointed the League is talking about a lockout before we even give our @nhlpa counterproposal. #theplayers

— Brandon Prust (@BrandonPrust8) August 10, 2012

In addition to seeing it from the player's vantage point, where they will be out of work for a year and prevented from playing the sport they pretty much revolve their lives around, you have to see it from a business point of view as well. Just think back to the lockout in 2005 and how that impacted the sport of hockey in such a negative way that many lost interest and the game's popularity took major hits. Now imagine that occurring all over again and the League having to build itself back up from the bottom yet another time, because they did make substantial progress since then. That progress, though, would all be erased with another lockout. 

It's not good for the League, the players, the fans, the owners, the arenas - it's just a lose-lose situation all around, but with what we've seen happen (or not happen rather) over the past month or so, hope is the only thing preventing the NHL from plunging back down to rock bottom. 

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