The War Room is now set for the NHL and the NHLPA to have direct talks between the players and the owners today in New York City. The Buffalo Sabres will have a representative there in Ryan Miller.
I have little room in my day for optimism when it comes to these negotiations. While it is promising that the sides are meeting – there are two cards that still can be played that will either continue the Lockout or send things into an uncontrollable spiral that could severely injure the game of hockey in North America.
It is a plus that Gary Bettman will not be in the room, both he and Donald Fehr are taking the higher road here and alleviating their personal views on the situation in the hopes of bartering a deal.
Bettman is a puppet in this game anyways – and the true proponent of the Lockout from the owners presence will be in attendance in Jeremy Jacobs. I can’t see how having him in the room is going to make a difference in ending the lockout, seeing as it has been my way – no highway option for the Bruins owner since the start of the lockout – with that attitude being bent towards the players association and his fellow owners. Interestingly enough – there are no Boston Bruins players that are involved in today’s talks.
Don’t come out of today’s meeting thinking that the players and owners will leave the room waving celebration banners that the lockout is over and a deal is done. Ryan Miller spoke with the Buffalo News yesterday and isn’t overly optimistic a deal will be done, but in what I read from his comments is they are looking to see where each side is coming from. No deal could come out of today, but with the Board of Governor meetings fast approaching, the NHLPA could have another card to play to put a deal in front of the owners that could end the lockout.
It’s a shame the NHL had to go and cancel the Winter Classic – a deal now would mean the best case scenario for the 2013 season would be a New Years day celebration for opening day.
Today’s meeting could go fast. If Jacobs keeps the hardline with the players, the meeting could last long enough for him to sit in the room and tell the players take it or leave it.
What’s left for the players then? Decertification talks would resurface then – and I think that’s what some owners are hoping for. There is nothing the NHL needs a players union to exist. With the PA decertified, the NHL can plead with the players that are hurting from not getting a paycheck – and say – ok, with no players association – here are the terms to play in the new NHL. There are plenty of players that would cross the line quickly to put skates on ice once again. You would be setting the game back decades if that were the case, but at least hockey would be back.
No matter what way you look at it, the hard lines have to end, and pushes need to turn into shoves – getting a deal done and saving the 202-2013 hockey season.