The NHL and NHLPA met again Thursday, this time with commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA head Donald Fehr both present. The union presented a proposal to the league. The league immediately rejected it and, as was expected, things went south from there.
Another thing Bettman stated was that things put on the table by the league over the past couple of days, most notably the increased “make-whole” provision that went up from $211 million to $300 million, were now off the table. In response, Fehr wiped away any hope of a deal being reached before Christmas or New Year’s by saying things didn’t look like they’d be solved anytime soon.
As one can probably imagine, this whole process has players shaking their collective heads. One such player is Tampa Bay Lightning winger Martin St. Louis, who told Tampa Bay Times Lightning beat writer Damian Cristodero the following:
“I can tell you I’m very discouraged. We try to engage them and keep negotiating but unless we say yes to what they want there is no deal. Put it this way. I won’t be skating any time soon. We were making progress and then you get an ultimatum. Tough to take. Time to take some time off, maybe go on vacation. That’s where I’m at.”
As for fans, I’m just going to be blunt. Most of us knew this was probably coming but still let ourselves get a tiny bit hopeful. It’s just the way we are. The sad thing now is that while the two sides bicker and take us all on an emotional roller-coaster, many of us sit back and laugh. Some fans have even gone as far as saying they won’t attend games if or when the NHL does come back out of anger and frustration with everyone involved in this mess. Who can blame them? Certainly not me.
What will the NHL do without fans attending games? Franchises will fold or, even worse, the league as a whole will fold. That’s sad to think about, but it’s the honest truth. If that, god forbid, happens at least we know who to blame. The league and union, while moving on a few issues, seem to find a way to screw things up when an agreement seems close to being done…either that 0r they’re smoking something strong enough to screw with their minds. Either way, many can agree by this point that both sides are determined to kill the NHL. We just hope they’re smart enough not to go through with it!