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In this file photo taken Sept. 17, 2012, the NHL logo is seen on a goal at a Nashville Predators practice rink in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, file)

We have lost patience with the madness surrounding the National Hockey League lockout, now in its third month. It is time to end this lockout and get back to playing hockey.

While federal mediators are back into the process for a second time, that doesn't mean things are any better. Such mediators have a spotty record, at best, in helping to settle labor disputes in professional sports leagues.

Frankly, we are weary from watching millionaire athletes quibble with billionaire owners over money, all at the expense of the people who help make them both rich.

Although we are not privy to the negotiations, we have seen this movie before, and we don't like it.

What may have at first been some legitimate disagreements over division of revenue, length of contract and honoring existing contracts has turned into an egomaniacal battle between NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHL players' representative Donald Fehr.

That appears to have turned the search for a legitimate bargain into a win-at-all-costs blood sport. Yes, we know that could be considered familiar territory for NHL players, but it reminds us more of how important business is conducted -- or, more accurately, not conducted -- in our nation's capital. Shudder at the thought.

Each side takes an extreme position producing little movement. Then, dueling news conferences offer spin that only remotely resembles truth.


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Last week, Fehr called a news conference to announce that a deal was "in sight." Insider accounts say the statements caused Bettman to throw a major tantrum. Fehr had to hurriedly call a second news conference to back away from the first one. That hardly seems a productive environment.

The NHL has already canceled games through the end of December, but there is thought that an agreement in the next few days could salvage a 48-game season, which is roughly 59 percent of the season, and all of the playoffs. Right now, that is the best scenario hockey fans can expect. But the threat of cancellation of the entire season is very real. The NHL, with Bettman at the helm, did just that in 2005. Honestly, there is a better-than-average chance that may happen this year, too. It is doubtful that the NHL would attempt to play a season if it had to begin any later than January, so it seems now or never.

The real tragedy is that this lockout hurts many more people than just the players, the owners or even the fans. People who make part of their living because of the NHL do not have strike funds or mounds of cash on which to rely. They just have to take the financial hit. Ushers, sales people and security all lose money. Businesses in and around the Shark Tank in San Jose, not to mention sports bars throughout the area, get hammered because the two sides can't find a solution.

The only encouraging aspect of the current negotiation is that it is being conducted at an "undisclosed location" and away from the media glare. Hey, whatever it takes to bring sanity back to the table, we are for it.