Professional hockey is on fire and not in a good way.

The 2013 locked out NHL season burns to the ground and hockey fans are stuck on the sideline roasting marshmallows. Is it fair? No. NHL owners, and players owe fans a season.

One quarter of the season is gone and hockey doesnít seem to have any intention of following the blueprint left by its three big brother sports as ways to properly navigating a lockout.

In 2011, saw pro baseball, basketball and football not only successfully navigated through league bitter dispute lockouts, but also allowed fans to enjoy the greater parts of a season and playoffs.† Players and owners sat at the table and cut through the media sniping, worked out a deal and put players back on the field.

As a fan of all sports, I understand the position of both players and owners. Itís in both parties best interest to make as much money as they can. I donít think anyone would disagree with either side doing that. But what each side should understand is that fans are not a very forgiving group when neither side wants to come to the table.

Beware NHL. In the 90ís, MLB shared Americaís attention with the NFL as a major sport. Baseball wasnít the number one sport anymore, but it was still a close second behind pro football until the 1994-95 dispute. Players and owners went on strike and couldnít get it settled in time for a season or playoffs to occur. Some fans left baseball to never return, while others are just now coming back to the sport.

Baseball, which once was labeled as Americaís favorite pastime, today could never seriously hold that title. The strike of 94-95 isnít the complete blame for the collapse of MLB, but it didnít help.

Hockey isnít in a war to hold onto the first, second or even third spot for American viewership. Hockey growth has come in large part because of its infusion in the South. The league canít afford to give up gains made with new fans by missing out on a season.

As a fan from the South, I know that Thanksgiving Day has football and basketball, but hockey is the icing on the top. To say that players and owners need to get it together and settle their differences is understatement. If Congress can pretend to like each other and work through their difference for the greater good, so can hockey.