Bitter? Jovial? Apathetic? Hopeful?

Pick an adjective and most NHL fans have probably experienced it over the past three plus months. The labor dispute that many NHL fans felt was unnecessary turned into a war of attrition as players and owners pointed fingers at one another while carelessly tugging at the heart strings of their fans. Both the NHL and the NHLPA have acted like victims of some great bully, as both sides have tried to sell their story to the fans of the game. What they do not understand, however, is that the fans are the true victims of this shortened season.

NHL fans, like any other professional sports fans, lay down their hard-earned money night after night to be entertained by the home team. For the hockey faithful, game night is a time of magic and excitement. It's a night of camaraderie and a chance for not only family and friends, but complete strangers to connect over their love of the sport. It's the night where young kids can watch their sports heroes perform great acts of strength and skill. It's a night where fans can experience three hours of exceptional entertainment.

The NHL has lost 625 of those nights.

The problem that the NHL and NHLPA now face is the disillusion of the fan base. The man behind the curtain has been revealed. The magic has momentarily run out.

I have been asked time and time against over the course of these bitter months "Will the fans come back?" or even "Should we come back?" I must admit, it has been a question that has weighed heavily on my heart and is part of the reason I have been avoiding the keyboard over the past few months. The 2012-2013 NHL lockout was the most unnecessary work stoppage in professional sports history. NHL fans are some of, if not the most, passionate in all of major sports. We love our game. For most of us, hockey isn't just a sport but a way of life. Our lives have been interrupted. Just last night one of my good friends in Columbus called me up and asked "What should we do?"