The players are fed up with all of this lockout nonsense, and so are a number of the owners, apparently. Will it make much of a difference tomorrow when the NHL and NHLPA resume negotiations in what they hope will be the last meeting they have to have concerning the creation of a new CBA? Possibly, but we haven’t quite reached the proverbial 11th hour yet, so there is still time for both sides to waffle, paint the other side as the villain and then jabber on about trying to get a deal which makes sense for the league, which we all know means a deal that will force the other side to do exactly what they want. There’s still plenty of time to get your popcorn and enjoy the show…or at least throw your popcorn at the screen every time Gary Bettman or Donald Fehr shows up.
If you believe the rumblings that the NHL must have a minimum of 48 games on the schedule to consider playing an abbreviated season, then you would have to think these negotiations could go on through about the first week of the New Year before the season gets cancelled. That being said, you also have to believe that the parties involved in all of this don’t want to have the dubious distinction of making the NHL the only professional North American sports league to have ever cancelled an entire season, and then go and do it a second time…all in less than a decade.
Bettman might be up to his eyeballs in confidence that the owners will win these negotiations in the end and that there is no way he will get fired by the owners or the Board of Governors despite how deplorable his tenure as the NHL’s Commissioner has been, but even he has to be aware that things are tenuous here. Fehr must be aware of this as well, despite the impression he gives of being a union head who has no regard for the situation beyond getting paid to keep making everybody wait. Something has to give here, but considering such diametrically-opposing forces are staring each other down, the question is what?
The best everyone can hope for tomorrow is that the two sides make progress and don’t try to kill each other. Some are reporting that the location will be secret and involve mediators in an attempt to mend fences after last week’s disaster in New York. Time will tell if this is true, but if it is, it might be the best move the two sides have made all month. Or it could be yet another landmine that fans and media everywhere will have to deal with once this session is finished.
Take your pick.