With Thursday's announcement that the NHL will not start as planned on Oct. 11, the lockout has reached next-level status and now becomes even more real for fans of the game.
We've compiled a list of some of the things we were looking forward to the most, but now won't get to see, as the lockout claims what would have been the first two weeks of the season:
1. The games
In total, we'll miss out on 82 matchups. Granted, these games may be made up if a deal is struck sooner rather than later and the 2012-13 campaign is extended (further) into the summer, but for now there is no NHL hockey. Zero. Ziltch. Nada.
2. Whatchoo gonna do with Lu?
Before lockout news hijacked the headlines, a lot of talk centred around who would occupy the blue ice for the Vancouver Canucks. After Roberto Luongo's interview in July in which he stated it was "time to move on" from the Canucks, we were all wondering where "Lu" would end up.
The fact that $5.3 million in salary per year would be riding the pine should have hastened his departure, but with no deal in the off-season, we won't get to see the possibility of Luongo (awkwardly) riding the pine while Cory Schneider takes over the starter's spot on Oct. 11 in Calgary.
3. Rivalries renewed
They wanted a war, and that's what they got. The Penguins vs. Flyers first-round playoff series was easily the most entertaining hockey of the conference quarter-finals, in large part due to the fact that the geographic rivals have a certain disdain for one another. Sadly, we won't get to see Scott Hartnell do an impersonation of a Hulk Hogan impersonator or Penguins fans donning bear masks to scare the pants off Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov on Oct. 18.
Speaking of the Flyers, we'll also miss the renewal of the goal-scoring rivalry (or maybe more appropriately thought of as each team's rivalry with their own defensive effort) with the Winnipeg Jets on Oct. 20. The two teams met last October and the Jets won a 9-8 barnburner. Winnipeg and the Flyers combined for 39 goals in their four-game season series last year, but the lockout provides only shutouts for the time being.
4. All-Canadian affairs
It seems that the best Hockey Night In Canada games usually come when two Canadian-based franchises face off. The trash talking amongst fans grows to a dull roar on the streets and online. So it's sad that we're losing the bravado spouted by fans before, during and after clashes between the Canucks and Flames (Oct. 11), Senators and Canadiens (Oct. 11), and Canucks and Oilers (Oct. 13)
We'll also miss out on the first battles for provincial bragging rights (Senators vs. Maple Leafs on Oct. 20, Flames vs. Oilers\ on Oct. 24).
5. The new kids in town
Rick Nash finally left the Blue Jackets for the Broadway Blueshirts. Zach Parise and Ryan Suter shocked the hockey world and went to Minnesota together. The Hurricanes are hoping Alexander Semin can push them back into playoff contention. The No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft, Nail Yakupov, joins the Oilers' youth movement. Casey Wellman is heading to the Florida Panthers.
OK, maybe we're not all excited for that last one, but we're all relegated to waiting for the latest roster updates to EA Sports video game NHL '13 to see players on their new squads.
Have your say
Now it's your turn — what events or specific games were you looking forward to the most during the first two weeks of the season? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.