Today, Oct. 25, was the NHL‘s self-imposed deadline for agreeing to a new collective bargaining agreement because the league feels that a full 82-game season could be saved if there’s a one-week training camp leading to puck drop on Nov. 2.
That deadline has come and gone and now the NHL is pulling the latest proposal it made to the NHLPA last week mere days before holding a very short meeting to reject three counter-proposals from the union. Since that unproductive meeting, the league has refused to talk to the union for any purpose because there is supposedly nothing to talk about–even though it certainly seems like there is something, something quite large, to talk about.
So, that offer is pulled now because it still operates off the hypothetical 82-game season, which apparently is no longer an option.
It’s back to the drawing board for Gary Bettman, Bill Daly and company–even after the leader of the free world used a public forum to suggest they make a deal.
Daly said he’s going to figure out internally how the league will proceed from here, and wanted to stress that he’s not threatening the players, but here is what will probably happen next: more game cancellations.
It might start with lobbing off the next two weeks of the season so that all games from Nov. 2 to, say, Nov. 15 or 16 would disappear from team website schedules in the blink of an eye.
Or, they could go ahead and take the axe to the entire month of November, although that would mean killing the Thanksgiving Showdown, the game some have believed will be the start of the season due to its nationally-televised status and big Discover sponsorship.
The two crown jewels of the season, the 2013 Winter Classic and 2013 All-Star Game, could even be threatened as soon as next week. Those are two more huge events with national TV deals and big sponsors who might be just a little irked by the idea of something they put money into suddenly disappearing.
Daly can say he’s not threatening players all he wants to, but when the very next move for the league is to scrub their flawed offer along with taking a red pen to the league calendar, thereby removing more chances for players to make the money they are entitled to–in those contracts the owners don’t want to honor anymore–it certainly seems like a veiled threat to me.
“It takes two to negotiate. They seem to be really good at imposing deadlines and issuing ultimatums and having lockouts. It seems to be something they’re well-practiced at,” NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr said. New Jersey Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello suggested sequestering the two sides in a room, like when a jury is making a decision, and not letting them out until there’s a deal. That doesn’t sound like a bad idea, actually.
Hey NHL, take President Obama’s advice. I don’t care if you’re Democrat, Republican, Libertarian or otherwise, the man is telling the truth about this–make a deal. No more stalling, refusing to meet with the union, making threats and canceling games and acting like it’s all their fault, that you’re totally innocent here. You’re not. Sit down at the bargaining table and at least try. As pretty much every mother in the world has said to her reluctant child at some point in time, you never know until you try.