A perpetual cycle of lockouts?

Updated: October 19, 2012, 11:40 AM ET
By Craig Custance

It was a conversation before the craziness. A Monday afternoon chat when all we knew was that this week was a crucial one for negotiations between the NHL and the NHLPA.

Red Wings forward Dan Cleary, one of the group of players who were in Toronto on Thursday to present the union's three offers, was asked a question that ignited an interesting answer.

Once a deal is ultimately struck, will both sides be able to come together amicably to help rebuild the game as a partnership?

"I think so," Cleary said on Monday. "When it comes time to have a partnership, which we all want, which we have to have -- if we don't have it, we'll have a lockout in six years. Again. We will, for sure."

And that's where we are right now. At a point in negotiations that impact not only how long the coming season will be but whether or not the two sides are setting up a growth-crushing cycle of a lockout every six or seven years.