The NFL season is winding down, baseball is over, and basketball is in that strange place where it’s not yet interesting but still being talked about. And then there’s the NHL. We should be enjoying out hockey right now, but with all the recent CBA trouble in the various professional leagues, we were bound to have someone botch the process — badly.
We are now inching closer and closer to seeing a second NHL season in ten years wiped out due to a lockout, and while the threat is very real and the consequences are tragic, progress is anemic in the talks between the league and the NHLPA.
That was until Thursday night. NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr submitted a proposal he felt would finally end the lockout. He made the announcement, proposed the new deal behind closed doors and returned almost quick enough to feel his own body heat from when he was last standing in front of the media.
What he had to say wasn’t what anyone wanted to hear, but it was rather more of the same: the NHL had rejected the latest proposal and the lockout will continue.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman addressed the media following the announcement that the latest deal had fallen through, and voiced his obvious frustration with what he described as an emotional roller coaster this past week.
“I think for all of you and out fans, this for me has been a week that if nothing else an emotional roller coaster. We had put in place a process that we hoped would move things along,” Bettman said. “The sense that was reported to me was there was a great deal of optimism, good communication and hope.”
Obviously that hope is back on life support as the NHLPA continues to make itself look bad as the lockout lingers on. One particular point Bettman made was that the owners put an additional $100 million on the table for the players to take, but as he described, the union was “shockingly silent” when it came to making a deal.
According to Bettman, the NHL is willing to make concessions if the union moves towards the owners in three key areas: contract limits of five years, a “longer the better” CBA, and compliance issues related to transitioning to a new agreement having to do with buyouts, cap on escrow. Either the NHLPA doesn’t know what that means or they aren’t willing to meet the NHL in the middle.
Unfortunately it might be both.
The longer the lockout drags on, the deeper the NHL is digging it’s own grave. A team from Los Angeles won the Stanley Cup in 2012 and in case you didn’t notice if a team in New York or especially L.A. wins something they get a lot of street credit as does the sport they play. The Los Angeles Galaxy won the MLS Cup and it was headline news.
The NHL is killing it’s own momentum just when it was starting to get on it’s feet after the last almost-crippling lockout. Hockey may be a Canadian and European sport, but it’s major dollars are in the U.S. with a population possessing an attention span that rivals a semi-developed gnat. If you go away for a certain period of time you will be forgotten and that’s likely where the once great sport of hockey is going.
And that’s the most tragic thing in this whole greed filled lockout debacle.