Whatever optimism there was on Tuesday was all but diminished on Thursday as the NHLPA countered the league’s proposal with three of their own – all rejected within a span of ten minutes. Whether Tuesday’s proposal by the league was sincere or simply a PR move, one thing is for certain: it was premature to expect an end to the lockout.
While union leader Donald Fehr and some of the players have complained that the league should made their proposal a month ago, it looks as though wasn’t as serious as we thought. On Tuesday, the league proposed an 82-game schedule to begin on November 2 with the owners and players at a 50/50 split of revenues. While the union has made it clear that they are willing to agree on the latter, they are not willing to have its players forfeit any money promised to them from their current contracts. This is the first thing Donald Fehr stated but Gary Bettman feels that if they were to pay the players every dime they’re owed, it would cost the league $230 million. While that is unfortunate for the owners, they should have thought of that before signing their players to contracts, with all due respect.
The trend of the current lockout reminds me of the previous lockout where we went through a similar pattern. When the lockout began, it was everyone against the owners then it was everyone against the players. If fans haven’t resorted to this yet, it will only be a matter of time before everyone says good riddance to both sides. While both sides have their points, we’re back in a state of trying to determine which ego will outlast which. It’s a losing battle but don’t tell that to the owners or the union – I’m sure they’ll have none of that.
To the credit of the NHLPA, they took two days to look the league’s offer over and come up with a counterproposal. Whatever they were thinking, the NHL decided to shoot down not one, not two but three counteroffers immediately. The least the league could have done is taken an hour to look over the proposals and if they didn’t like it what they saw, then say so. But at least the league should have given the union the benefit of the doubt. Nonetheless, Tuesday was nothing more than a fantasy world as both sides are back to their usual stubborn ways with the end result being, quite simply, a colossal mess.
On Tuesday, there appeared to be light at the end of the tunnel. In just a couple of days, that light is gone. Barring a miracle, we can all but say goodbye to an 82-game schedule – but that doesn’t mean all hope is lost. Right now, you’d be hard-pressed to find any fan with a glimmer of hope for a new season. But give it time and we’ll see where things are next week as the next few days of negotiations are the most crucial and we can only hope that the powers that be capitalize on every opportunity they have.
Like the star players on the ice, both sides simply need to be clutch. There’s nothing more to it than that.
Photo: Courtesy of Associated Press