The news that both sides are actually sitting across from each other may be cause for celebration but even if the lockout is resolved in the near term, has too much damage been done to the fan base?
I had written this elsewhere but would love to get the Rotowire view:
What does this have to do with apathy? Fans, like most of us on this site, are angry. Angry that the game we all love has been taken from us by both sides, who cannot find a way to sit down and bridge the gap, regardless of how wide they believe it is. When and if they settle, regardless of the length of the absence, we likely will be back. The bigger key is a quote that I had seen in another blog: "The owners and the players don't care about us, I am done caring about them." That apathy is what will kill the future of the sport after all the gains made in the past year or two. If casual fans don't care, then the potential for the game to grow and flourish is minimized. Couple that with businesses who may not see the benefit of sponsorship due to decreased ratings and interest, and you have what could be a deadly combination.
This may be the NHL and NHLPA's last chance to get close to a full season and not lose the interest of the casual and die hard fans, don't blow it.