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It's time to play before it's too late

Updated: December 29, 2012, 8:02 PM ET
By Scott Burnside | ESPN.com

So the finish line appears, the point at which hope and belief and gut instinct finally intersects with reality.

Even in the darkest, most silent days of this frustrating labor dispute between the NHL and its locked-out players, there has always been a sense of quiet optimism that at some point there would be a resolution.

That belief, sometimes muted, sometimes unequivocal, emanated from every rung on the hockey ladder.

Talk to governors, owners and team presidents and they ...

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