By now, I should be accustomed to waiting.

But with Sunday’s early-morning announcement of a preliminary agreement, my excitement has grown and patience have shrunk.

Owners finalized their votes today to ratify their end. Player voting may not be done until Saturday.

What the heck is taking so long?

With a season that already is unnecessarily short, it would seem like urgency and haste might make sense right about now. Think about it. The current 48-game schedule easily could be increased to 50 games if the season would start before January 19.

That sure would make the schedule look a bit more appealing than the two rumored options outlined below:

  • Rumor 1: seven games against each division opponent (28 games) and two games against non-division conference opponents (20 games)
  • Rumor 2: five games against two division opponents (10 games), four games against the other two division opponents (8 games), and three games games against all non-division conference opponents (30 games)

Rumor two is picking up significant steam, and while neither option is pretty, this one seems particularly odd. Two division opponents will be played just one more time than non-division opponents?

By adding two games to the schedule, the mix would be much more logical:

  • Suggestion for 50 games: five games against each division opponent (20 games) and three games against each non-division conference opponent (30 games)

I realize adding two games to a schedule that begins January 19 would serve to further condense an already grueling schedule for the players — which is why I am asking what is taking so long.

We have been told since November that “NHL schedule-makers” had multiple scenarios in place and constantly were working the numbers to have something finalized as soon as the lockout ended. Wrong.

We were told the minute a deal is reached, things would move extremely quickly. Wrong.

We were told that upon agreement, players would be given three days to return to their team’s cities before a one-week training camp. Wrong.

Now, I realize much of this information came from those in the media, not those in the meetings. But when credible sources like Pierre LeBrun, Darren Dreger, and Bob Mackenzie report something, there’s some merit.

Instead of a speedy process we were expecting (and should be seeing) we’re watching a race between a sloth and a turtle.

We’re now nearing the end of the fourth day (if you count Sunday), and there still are players who haven’t made plans to return to North America from Europe — heck, some participated in games as recently as yesterday.

We’ve already endured a 110+ day lockout, and now they’re forcing us to wait around while players and owners take a lengthy vote?

It’s time for the two sides to stop dragging their feet and put the foot on the gas. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen throughout the lockout, no one is in any hurry to do anything.

Which is why we will see an uneven number of games played amongst division rivals and an uneven number of home/away games played between many teams.

It doesn’t make sense — but that should be expected from a league that finds it better to lock out its players after each CBA expires than to find a solution before games are missed.