After not meeting for two weeks the NHL and the NHLPA finally sat down Friday morning and actually made progress on things. Unfortunately not the things that you or I wanted them to agree on. Progress? Well, at least they talked. Secondary issues were the topics of conversation, and it was reported that the core economic issue that has both sides at an impasse wasn’t even discussed.
Former defenceman Mathieu Schneider who is now a special NHLPA assistant summed up the talks by referring to Friday’s discussion as making baby steps. Here’s the entire quote:
“You would absolutely hope that things progress and kind of catch fire, but right now we’re just going to take it one step at a time and try to come to an agreement on as many issues as possible,” said former player Mathieu Schneider, now an NHLPA special assistant to the executive director. “We’re taking baby steps right now.”
While the discussions were focused on drug testing, player safety and other topics that had nothing to do with the major issues, it was nice to see both sides in the room for longer than 90 minutes. Still, with no visible outcome resembling a settlement, the economic struggle still exists. I find it hard to believe that the season will start on time at the pace both sides are going. Friday was the first meeting since September 16th, and with opening night around the corner, things would need to happen rather quickly in order for the games to begin on time. The longer this goes, the more it looks as though games will soon be getting cancelled.
The owners together with Gary Bettman representing the league are unified in their stance. There will be no hockey until an agreement is reached. This isn’t anything new as we approach the deadline of September 15th which has been set by the NHL. The players, with almost 300 in attendance the past two days stand along side with Donald Fehr, are willing to play while an agreement is being worked on. Even with the players willingness to move ahead under the current arrangement, the league will not bend on their stance. The following phase that came from Bettman yesterday was repeated numerous times last evening:
“No one wants a deal and to play hockey more than I do,” Bettman said when asked what he would tell fans about yet another lockout under his watch. “This is what I do, what my life is about as far as how I spend most of my waking hours. This is really hard. .-.-. I feel terrible about it.”
I’d like to believe that he does, despite the hardball stance he’s taken. I’d like to think that the players do as well. This is about money. An evil part of most arguments, but it’s the one major part of these discussions that are keeping both sides at odds. I’m not looking to toss the word greed around too lightly, as I see both sides at times. The league wants to stop the bleeding for teams that are, and the players want to earn what they feel they’re worth. Taking a 24% cut in pay isn’t going to get them there. Hockey related revenue (HRR), the new acronym for 2012 can’t be decided on either.
Can Brendan Shanahan suspend the labor discussions?:
Talks continue as both the NHL and NHLPA attempt to work out a settlement. Here in one place we bring you what are the important articles to read.
James Mirtle does an excellent job of breaking this down. Globe and Mail.
Michael Grange at Sportsnet doesn’t see this coming together soon. SportsNet.
Donald Fehr believes a lockout can be avoided. CBC Sports.
Fehr also lays out the union’s position. Pro Hockey Talk.
Justin Bourne says it’s not impossible for the players to play. Backhand Shelf.
Puck Daddy as this whole situation relates to the fans.
Thanks for reading. We welcome your comments and opinions.
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