All right, everyone, calm down. I know you’re all salivating at the thought of these owners-players meetings actually breaking through and bringing us a deal, but all this “cautious optimism” needs to be held back.
Remember that very long meeting between Steve Fehr and Bill Daly? We all thought it would bring something and hopefully kick start talks. It did for about five minutes. Think of how many times we’d been lured into thinking something good was going to happen, only to have our hoped shredded. It’s why I wouldn’t trust Daly to feed my cats, let alone give me information.
The consensus is that the two sides are close to getting this done. This is nice, but you know what will stand in the way of all that and unravel anything that was done in these last few days? Actually, it’s not a what, it’s a who: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. I’m not into conspiracy theories, but this setup has made me suspicious from the start. Why would Bettman suddenly suggest this type of meeting? After all the animosity between the two sides, what changed?
Trust me, nothing’s changed. Bettman knows what he’s doing. He wouldn’t suggest this meeting if he didn’t have something in mind to derail it. He has Jeremy Jacobs in there to be his eyes and ears and Daly to back up anything Jacobs reports. No one but the principals in the room knows what’s really been said. Who’s to say that whatever has been reported to Bettman hasn’t been skewed?
Then there’s the Board of Governors meeting. Bettman and Daly made their presentation on what was said in the meeting. How do we know that they didn’t lie or twist facts to their favor? He could’ve told the owners in that meeting tot make it seem like they were conceding ground but then change their minds. In short, this whole deal is at the mercy and whim of the commissioner.
But why would he do this? He wants to keep his job a little longer. He knows that the first thing that will happen after a CBA is signed is that there will be a call for him to resign. No one’s going to hail him as the savior of the season. The Board of Governors will have had enough of his two lockouts in eight years, three lockouts in his tenure and his bad PR. He’s taking a giant risk in calling for this meeting. If it results in a deal, his days could be numbered. But if it fails, and he’s banking on it, he’ll be one of the first to pipe up and lie that he’s disappointed.
I’m not saying that I’ll be surprised if a deal is struck this weekend, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a wrench is thrown into the works and makes everything come to a screeching halt. And with that, I’ll remove my tin hat and go back to groaning over bad Google translations of Finnish hockey websites.