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Published: Saturday, 1/5/2013

Game on ice

It's cold. The sun sets so early that afternoons are swallowed by evenings. The holiday decorations are coming down. The region is downright dreary.

We love the Toledo Walleye. But we want the National Hockey League back.

The NHL, and especially the Detroit Red Wings, provide a local respite from the winter blahs. It’s easy to dismiss the contract dispute between the league and its players’ union as a squabble among millionaire owners and highly compensated athletes. But this prolonged standoff — the lockout began Sept. 15 — is affecting the future of the NHL itself.

If negotiators work out a deal by Jan. 11, that would allow for a much-reduced schedule of 42 games. If they don’t, there’s virtually no hope of salvaging what should have been the 2012-13 season.

Both sides must have short memories. In 2004, the owners won a salary cap and pay cuts they demanded, but they lost a whole season. In some markets, it took a long time to rebuild support. Here’s hoping that this time, fans will be rewarded with at least an abbreviated hockey season to brighten the dark days of winter.

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