Well here’s a frustrating tidbit that popped up on the Twitter machine last night: The NHLPA requested a meeting with the NHL today, and the league told them to go suck an egg, in slightly more professional terms.
The players executive board had a conference call on Tuesday night, which they followed up with the request.
“We informed the NHL we are willing to meet (Wednesday) or any other date, without preconditions, to try to reach an agreement,” the union said in a statement. “We hope to hear from them soon.”
The answer came quickly — no.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said because the players were unwilling to bargain off the league’s last proposal, there’d be no point.
“Given their rejection of our proposal and their indication that they aren’t prepared to make a new one, what is there to meet about?” Daly wrote to the Star in an email.
If I may steal a line from Peter Griffin, that last line really grinds my gears. “What is there to meet about?” Eff you, man.
What is there to meet about? Has he been following along? There seems to be an untold number of issues that need to get worked out, why would it be so terrible to sit there and talk about them, maybe find out where each side is willing to give a bit? You might get a little bit closer, you might not, but that’s the point here: there is no negative that can come from talking. If the meetings end in “Sorry, we still totally disagree on literally everything down to every last tenth of every percent,” then you’re still where you are now.
From the fan perspective (and therefore the PR side), this is all people have wanted to see. Act like men – not businessmen – get in a room and fucking hash things out. Maybe Fehr says “Look, I think I could get our guys to back it off here – but I’d have to have something to show them to justify it,” and Bettman says “I think I could get the owners to move on this here, let’s call those moves a compromise and plow on.” (Yes, I’m aware that’s a Narnia-esque fantasy of a conversation, but you get the point.)
Both Bettman and Fehr know where the people they represent are willing to end up, and both know where we currently sit. To get to those eventual figures, the game doesn’t need to be “proposal with a minor concession” – TWO WEEK BREAK – “proposal with a minor concession” – TWO WEEK BREAK – “proposal with a minor concession.” We can get there quicker.
But we won’t.
We won’t, because both sides (but mostly the owners) think there’s a long-shot they can squeeze blood from stone, and until the 11th hour, aren’t willing to try for anything less, even if it’s just water.
I feel like the insistence by the lead men on both sides on going for the home run – knowing that the other side really wants there to be NHL hockey this year, because they both do – is going to set negotiations back to the point where we miss out on having a full season, or…worse. Today’s the first day I’ve really felt like that.
So, fingers crossed. Maybe if these arrogant owners can get their heads out of their asses soon, we’ll have hockey by December. Fingers crossed.