Many Winnipeg hockey fans and business owners are bracing for the possibility of the NHL locking out its players, which could affect the Jets' second season back in Manitoba.

The league and the NHL Players' Association are in talks surrounding a new collective bargaining agreement this week, in the hopes of avoiding a work stoppage.

The current contract is set to expire just before midnight on Saturday, and the owners have said they will enact another lockout if a new agreement isn't reached beforehand.

If the lockout goes ahead, it would be the league's fourth work stoppage since 1992.

It could also dampen the spirits of Winnipeg Jets fans who have been celebrating the return of NHL hockey to Manitoba by packing the MTS Centre for sold-out home games throughout the 2011-12 season.

"When you've got 15,000 people coming downtown 41 nights of the year to watch hockey games, that has an impact on restaurants, hotels, and retail and cabs," said Chuck Davidson of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce.

Officials with True North Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Jets franchise, told CBC News they would not comment on the potential NHL lockout unless it actually happens.

Employees, charities could be affected

The lockout could affect hundreds of employees of the MTS Centre, from food and beverage servers to security guards and ushers.

Centerplate, a U.S.-based company that runs the concession vendors at the MTS Centre, said in a statement, "We would re-align our staffing at the MTS Centre to reflect any NHL game cancellations caused by ongoing [labour] negotiations.

"On behalf of Centerplate and its employees, we hope and expect this dispute to be resolved as quickly as possible," the company adds.

Manitoba charities could also be hurt by a potential lockout, since they benefit from money raised by the True North Foundation.

The foundation donated more than $1 million to 44 children's charities in the last season, including Marymound, which bought 20 new laptops with the $27,000 it received.

"The bulk of the foundation's income last year came from 50-50 ticket sales at Jets games," said Ian Hughes, Marymound's chief executive officer.

Hughes said if there is an NHL lockout, the organization would have to look for other donors.

"People will have to be looking elsewhere, and it's a bit of a tight market out there these days," he said.

With files from The Associated Press