What a [expletive] show this League has become.
The NHLPA greets the media with sunshine about the negotiations, and one gets the feeling they were leaking the same good vibes throughout this week's talks in New York City. Then Gary Bettman swings the mighty hammer of depressing reality in this press conference, which may very well be the eulogy for the 2012-13 season. Watch and weep:A video or other embedded content has been hidden. Click here to view it.
Two choice quotes, first on the NHLPA selling good news when the negotiations didn't yield it:
"I'm not sure spinning us all into an emotional frenzy over maybe we're close and we're gong to be playing hockey tomorrow, is terribly unfair to our fans and to this process."
Here's Bettman on the negotiations:
"It appears that the union is suggesting that because we made substantial movements in certain areas, that we're close to a deal. But those moves were contingent on the union specifically agreeing on other things; which while the union may have moved towards, didn't agree to."
According to NHL.com's Dan Rosen, those issues are: "1) max 10-yr CBA, 2) shorter max length on contracts than PA's 8-yr proposal; 3) no compliance issues, i.e. buyout agreements and limit on escrow."
So the NHL went take-it-or-leave-it, and the Fehrs continued to negotiate. And Bettman's right: They keep moving the puck. The revenue sharing was the key element, then make whole was the key element, then contracting was the key element and then it was the pension plan. Donald Fehr is fiddling while the NHL season burns.
That said, the NHL's owners are making these enormous, back-breaking concessions when they're conceding from a position of abject theft from what was given to the players seven years ago. Watching the pained look on Bettman as he discusses what the owners are giving up, you'd almost imagine he believes this is a strike instead of his third lockout.
The next step would seem to decertification for the NHLPA. Which is a shame, because the NHLPA would have been better served with a player-wide vote on a fully-formed deal based on the New York talks this week.
But that time as passed. So has the NHL's if they can't get past this petty nonsense.