ST. PAUL, Minn. -- While the NHL lockout enters its 80th day, Tom Reid looks back at the nights that have been lost at his "Hockey City Pub" and beyond. "There are hundreds of thousands of people that are affected by this, not just the business owners around the rink, but all through the different industries," he explained.
Reid says on a game night, he usually has a staff of 35 to keep the crowds happy. These days, his crews top out at five or six workers. "We've got young kids who have, you know, tuition payments, school, and books. They've got rent payments and car payments and insurance and daily living expenses and we can't afford to give them the hours that they need in order to sustain themselves," the former NHLer noted.
At Reid's, they put slashes on the calendar to keep track of the games missed. The NHL has lost around 350 games by early December and labor talks don't seem to be generating much optimism.
"They tried mediation, they walked out of the room exasperated. They've had dozens of meetings, it's gotten nowhere. At some point we need some sort of pressure point here on both sides , so I do think a 'drop dead' is critical," Star Tribune NHL writer Michael Russo told KARE 11.
Many fans wonder when the league will call the season altogether. When the 2004-2005 season was scrapped, the decision was made in mid-February.
Russo says this time around, his educated guess puts the deadline around January 1st or 2nd, meaning a deal has to be in place by then in order to salvage some season. "These next couple days are extremely critical. They've got to gain traction here and if they don't, the season could very well be in jeopardy."
While that may be a worst case scenario, it also remains a very real possibility. "Right now it's going to be hard enough to get these fans back on board in a lot of situations. You lose an entire year? Man, I can't even imagine what that's going to be like," Russo concluded.
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