PHOENIX - It's been 93 days and change since the NHL Lockout began, and it appears the owners and the NHL Players Association are no closer to reaching a deal than they were three months ago.
Over 500 games have been cancelled, and the 2012-13 season is in serious jeopardy of being over if a deal is not struck between the two sides soon.
While this news is depressing for all hockey fans, it is especially depressing for Phoenix Coyotes fans who were hoping that the momentum built from last season's run to the Western Conference Finals would carry over into this campaign.
Alas, the two sides are at a standstill and hockey in the desert feels as bleak as ever.
But despite the impasse between the NHL and the players, you can still find some of your 'Yotes practicing at the Ice Den in Scottsdale four days a week.
The players hold a practice Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday at 11 in the morning, and if you hang around until the end, you could get a chance to meet some of your favorite players like Shane Doan, Mike Smith, and Derek Morris.
The opportunity is something I encourage all Coyotes fans to take advantage of because rarely will you ever get a chance to get a one-on-one experience with a professional athlete the way you can with these guys right now.
After Tuesday's practice, Doan met with every single fan that was sitting rink-side, introduced himself, asked his or her name, took pictures, and invited them all back to watch practice on Thursday. How many professional athletes would do that? You could probably count them on one hand.
It's been too long since we last saw a meaningful NHL game, but a handshake from Doaner makes it at least a little better, right?