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NHL lockout: Danny Cleary worried about 'the fans and the game'

Red Wings forward Danny Cleary thinks the health of the sport could be damaged significantly if the lockout persists as expected.

Dave Sandford

Nearly two months after the NHL season was originally supposed to begin, the lack of a new collective bargaining agreement between owners and the NHLPA continues to draw the ire of a number of current Detroit Red Wings players.

One heavily involved with the union, veteran forward Danny Cleary, told Ansar Khan of MLive.com that he was completely taken aback by how terribly Thursday's talks with the owners ended up.

"Today was a really, really bad day,'' Cleary said. "Everybody's in disbelief. We came to them on a ton of areas, made good strides. It's still not good enough. Unbelievable.''

While Cleary appears hopeful that a season will materialize at some point with a new CBA in tow, Red Wings teammate Todd Bertuzzi is one of many who do not share the optimism, as the 37-year-old Bertuzzi recently told reporters he fully expects the season to be canceled.

With the likelihood that the players will decertify from the union growing by the day, the league could be faced with a very lengthy recovery process that spans years rather than months. While all of this could be ended with a simple yet impossible negotiation between two sides who have worked together for decades, Cleary fears for both the fans and the sport as a whole.

"At some point you have to seriously consider the health of the game,'' Cleary said. "I'm worried about the fans and the game. It really (ticks) me off.''