Could it really be happening again?
Another NHL season wiped out. More lottery balls.
Say it's a dream. Wake us up.
No, it feels all too real this time, like a bad routine, pre-ordained and predictable.
It certainly didn't feel that way prior to previous work stoppages.
The possibility of a labour dispute pre-empting the start of an NHL season was only a concept then - until being treated to a `94-5 campaign truncated to 48 games.
Long-buried recollections of that cold winter began to flood back, especially after reading an article in our sophomore edition in 1995-96 by veteran journalist and writer Scott Morrison.
In 'Tales From The Lockout; What was gained from shutting the NHL down for 103 days?', Mr. Morrison surmises that the 'players gave up a lot' in a restrictive deal - and 'those scars will remain open for a long while'.
A decade to be precise. The next big labour showdown would obliterate the 2004-05 campaign and create a raffle for the 2005 Draft - the winner gifted with top prize Sidney Crosby.
At the time, the NHL devised a weighted-average lottery that gave all 30 NHL teams a chance to win the coveted No. 1 overall pick.
The lottery barrel began with 90 balls, each team having three apiece.
However, a maximum of two balls were removed - for every playoff appearance made in the previous three seasons - and for each No. 1 overall pick in the previous four.
The end result was 48 balls, with only four teams having three tickets - Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Columbus and the New York Rangers - and a 6.25% chance of winning.
Ten teams had two balls each - or a 4.2% chance - with the remaining 16 clubs given a 2.1% chance from their one ball.
Bad memories indeed.
Will we be facing a similar roulette wheel next June - for what is shaping up to be a bumper crop of talent? Or might the NHL even consider postponing the draft until 2014, leading us to new and uncharted territory - as the division between owners and players solidifies...!!
Perish all thoughts.
Our collective therapy will include plenty of draft discussion and analysis.
Stay tuned here as we kick off coverage of the 2013 Draft - with or without the NHL.....
Along with providing exclusive rankings during the next nine months, we will also have lots of opinions, scouting analysis and game reports.
And the odd tune to set the mood.....