by Kolby Solinsky
Editor, White Cover Magazine
Is there any call for optimism anymore?
Sure, you will have your holdouts. There will be the people saying, “Get over yourself. Believe in the NHL. It has to come back. It has to.” There will obviously be those on the other side. “Who cares? The NHL sucks. I hate it. It’s done. It’s never coming back.” Neither of them are really on the money (no pun intended). Even if the league does return — say — before Christmas, it hasn’t really “come back” yet. It didn’t just happen.
But, after three straight days of some kind of last-minute waiting game the likes of which we haven’t seen yet — when two days of direct owner-to-player negotiations resulted in an offer from the NHL and a counter-offer from the NHLPA — ended with a resounding thud and an all too familiar sound of silence, positivity just isn’t in any hockey fan’s vocabulary anymore. And, it shouldn’t be.
“The idea to put players and owners together in the same room was a refreshing idea. Commissioner Bettman should be thanked for proposing it and the Fehrs should be thanked for agreeing to it,” said Pittsburgh Penguins owner Run Burkle. “The players came with a strong desire to get back to playing hockey. They were professional and did a good job of expressing their concerns and listening to ours.”
At last… civility. And, yes, Bettman and the Fehrs should be thanked for the idea and the willingness to comply. But, that’s about it. As soon as they re-entered the room on Thursday, the entire potential CBA blew up, mushroom-cloud style, in everyone’s faces.
Now, we’re all left to waft in the rubble and debris.
“This looks like it’s not going to be resolved in the immediate future,” said Donald Fehr, the head of the NHLPA’s side, on Thursday night. He added there is no current timetable for resuming talks.
(But, like, you were all just there? Can’t you just say, “Let’s meet on Monday”? Study groups at community colleges do it all the time. They actually have a schedule, and they stick together through sexual mishaps and different timelines.
“We have moved dramatically, we are proposing a long-term system that will pay the players billions and billions of dollars over its term, but we have to have a system that works right,” said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. (If you’re not sure who he is, he’s the one who looks like The Count Who Can Count.) “It’s all part of the package. I am disappointed beyond belief that we are where we are tonight. We’re going to have to take a deep breath and try and regroup.”
“I must admit that I was shocked at how things have played out over the last 48 hours,” said Larry Tanenbaum, chairman of Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment. “I am very disappointed and disillusioned. Had I not experienced this process myself, I might not have believed it. Like all hockey fans, I am hopeful this situation can be resolved as soon as possible.
“I miss our game.”
And, when Gary Bettman spoke of the hill in the negotiations known as “player contracts”, check out what he had to say. It’s the most depressing thing you could possibly hear as of December 7.
Okay, we’ve gotten nowhere, have we?