It's taken almost three months, but with the NHL lockout continuing into the new year, I've finally reached my end.

Christian Petersen, Getty Images

Some weeks ago I took to this page a desperate fan.

Today, I've returned with no fight left to give.  My spirit has finally been broken.  Whatever naive hope I was clinging to has been swept out, the exact amount to which I'd been a misguided fool made all too clear, now.  After all, I'd based my arguments in logic and reason, business savvy and empathy for the fan.

Concepts that have escaped NHL management for decades now.

It's my own fault, really.  I should always have known better.  I should have known better than to put any faith in a league whose best promotional strategy is word of mouth. I should have known better than to put my faith in a league so obsessed with whether or not they could expand into new markets, they never stopped to think about whether they should.

I should have known better than to put my faith in a league that has, time and again, treated the fan as an eternally renewable natural resource, and not what they are - the result of a long, delicate building process; a precious mineral in need of conservation.

Sadly, I made the mistake that too many of my fellow NHL fans have made.  I tricked myself into thinking that the experienced, successful businessmen of the NHL would realize what we all realized long ago: that the long term gain they're fighting for pales in comparison to the effect of this short term disaster.  I tricked myself into thinking that the league they've been struggling to bring back from the precipice they brought it to eight years ago will, this time, be plunged over it for good if the paradigm keeps.

I tricked myself into thinking that the greatness of the game - celebrated and played by millions across the country and the world - could overcome those who run its biggest league.

But now, as New Year's Day passes without the renewal of the Winter Classic, I must confess myself bitterly disgruntled and wholly, utterly beaten down.  The optimist in me has fallen victim to a regime too willing to watch die what they're charged with growing and protecting - all in the bullheaded pursuit of a business deal they should know is out of reach.

It would be unbelievable if it wasn't the NHL.  And it would be comical if it wasn't so disgustingly petty and childish.

Even as the new year dawns and the world celebrates a renewal of hope - including the NHL community as the players and league are reportedly back in negotiations - I find myself, as I'm sure this article reads, decidedly pessimistic.  Too many times during this lockout has hope served only as a prerequisite for deeper despair - too many times has it been met with disappointment.

Please let me be wrong.

Let those involved find their better senses and do what's right.  Let the keepers of this game we love so much resurrect it before it's too late.  Let the new year bring with it, in this small, trivial way, the realization of its promise.

Hope has long since passed me by, so consider this a frenzied plea, let us soon have hockey in 2013.