As fans around North America and the world held their breath, the NHL and NHLPA went into the same room today with the same goal – find some common ground and begin negotiations towards ending Lockout 2012 and starting the National Hockey League by November 2, 2012.
While optimism was a buzz word this morning, dissappointment is the buzzword this afternoon. Maybe the Sulzer announcement yesterday was a sign of things to come, but at this point, it appears as though the NHL season is in danger of happening at all.
While both sides of the negotiating table have continued discussions throughout the process so far, we are starting to hear the same kind of language that we were hearing that caused the impasse in 2003, as the NHL rejects three NHLPA counterproposals.
Not speaking the same language was the term that Bettman used as he addressed the media following discussions. Fehr, in speaking for the players says they are unwilling or unable to see a reason to accept anything less in terms of dollars.
Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, – todays negotiations ended in one hour because “there was really nothing there”. With neither side wanting to stand on principle and meet just for meetings sake – it is now more than ever very clear that there is a line in the sand – and neither side wants to approach the line that might see them as giving up anything.
What are the sides afraid of? That fans will lose respect and see them as the weaker entity? That if they give up on the fact that players won’t accept 50% of the HRR share that fans won’t come to the arena and spend money – increasing those revenues?
The more you squabble over the issue, the more the fan will walk away. The longer it takes you to agree on a split, whether its closer to 57/43 or closer to 50/50 – the less of a piece of pie you will have to split up.
The league has shown grown in the eight years since the last lockout – are we really watching two sides scrap that growth and hit the reset button to start the trend all over again – needing six or more years to rebuild?
Gary Bettman is thoroughly disappointed that a deal could not be reached. Fans are thoroughly disappointed that they have been given the back seat and told that you will not have hockey – but we expect you back when we get done fighting over your money.