While there is no new news on the collective bargaining agreement front, the NHL Board of Governors met today, and voted on the lockout issue.
Gary Bettman, commissioner of the National Hockey League has already said the league would lockout its players if a deal was not in place at 11:59 on Saturday September 15th, 2012, the exact time that the current collective bargaining agreement ends. The commissioner of the league does not need the board of governors approval to make such a move.
So why then a vote, and a press conference to relay the information from said vote? It is one of the only ways the owners can stand in solidarity with one another – the players have their rally cries, the league needs theirs.
By voting 30-0 in favor of the commissioners actions, the owners are telling the players that they are one on the economic issues of the league, and will not be forced into separate corners on issues involving the negotiations.
Both sides seem intent on negotiating a deal in good faith, and the waters are still clear, unlike the inability to negotiate between the parties that the last lockout caused. While it is unlikely that a deal will get done before the September 15th deadline – there is still plenty of time to get a deal done that could save the entire 2012-2013 season – or if worse comes to worse give us a shortened schedule.
“We’ll meet, as I’ve said, any time and any place,” Commissioner Bettman said. “If they choose not to have any reason to get together with us, then we’ll have to accept that.”
Bettman has pretty much put the NHLPA on notice, that the league is willing to go toe-to-toe with the players and get a deal ironed out, but the puck is on the players stick as far as when an where the meetings will take place.
“Our position will be once the lockout begins that we’re not going to walk away from discussions and we’ll certainly be prepared if we have anything new to say,” NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr.
While Bettman has basically said that the league is ready wherever, and whenever to discuss things, Fehr’s comments draw a line in the sand that we had to figure was there. IF we have anything new to say – that is a big if right there, and if the players come to an impasse and don’t like what the league is offering, then we could see a replay of what happened in the last lockout, two sets of people who need to negotiate a deal that have nothing more to say.
It can’t be that hard to negotiate this deal – there are no third parties, you have one league, you have one players association. It is not like the players can play one league off another saying well this is what they are offering, can you do better – you have no possibility of a bidding war. The two sides are not so far apart that you can’t take the two proposals, and find common ground.
With just over 48 hours to go – regardless of the true nature of the impasse, a stream could look like the Grand Canyon.