This picture has nothing to do with the article. I just love Alfie. - Bruce Bennett
The league is poised for a historic meeting between players and owners tomorrow, absent lead negotitators Gary Bettman and Don Fehr.
In the immortal words of Hanson, "It's not enough."
So, the big news of the weekend is that the NHLPA has accepted the NHL's offer to meet without Bettman and Fehr involved in the process. Seems to make sense on the surface--we know the players hate Bettman, and Fehr's refusal to be bullied has stymied Bettman at every turn, so much so that the NHL has taken unusually aggressive steps to not let Fehr be the only one who talks about their offers.
But should we really believe this step is going to lead to any kind of traction in the negotiations? Call me cynical, but the labor impasse is not because of personal animosity between Fehr and Bettman, it's about a fundamental difference of opinion between employees and their employer, and neither side being willing to budge. Whatever we may think about Bettman and Fehr, at the end of the day, they're nothing more than men who have been chosen to represent the positions of the men who hired them.
Taking the lead negotiators out of the equation won't change the fundamental position of either side--the owners want to pay the players less money, and the players want the owners to pay them what they said they would pay them. One imagines that saying that directly to each others' faces isn't going to somehow bust open the stalled progress.
And really, even if everything aligns and the parties walk away with a verbal agreement, so what? An agreement is only the first part of the whole process. We've already seen the league throw out offers that look amicable at first glance only to see the details twist it up so much that it's unrealistic. The owners could agree to give the players 75% of revenue tomorrow, only to follow it up with a proposal in writing that only guarantees 46%.
Does the league really think that hearing the owners' plight directly from the owners' mouths will affect the players? Do the players really think that hearing their position directly from their own mouths will move the owners to open their pocketbooks? I'm already on record that I think the players are in the right but should cave because the owners have a history of shooting themselves in the foot. I don't know what else can be done to end the lockout, especially given the limited progress that has been made by talking so far.
Don't get me wrong--any communication is good communication. Players and owners meeting is a hell of a lot better suggestion than not talking for two weeks. But as long as the two sides don't agree--and that doesn't appear to have changed at all--it feels like whatever is said is going to fall on deaf ears regardless of who is doing the speaking and who is doing the listening.
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- Jason Spezza has 20 points (7G, 13A) in 22 games with Rapperswil in Switzerland. [Rotoworld]
- Here's another article with fans pretending they have any kind of influence over the lockout. [Senators Extra]
- "Sometimes you think it's real hard to get here when in reality it's harder to stay." A great little interview with Paul MacLean. [Senators]
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- Stephane Da Costa recorded a hat trick in his return to action, and Jakob Silfverberg and Patrick Wiercioch also scored goals as the Binghamton Senators won their 8th straight. Ben Bishop was in net, as Lehner was the flu's prey this weekend. [B-Sens]
- Mikael Wikstrand, who had a great start to his season, was named to Sweden's World Juniors roster. [SteffeG]
- As you may have heard, some players and owners are meeting tomorrow. Hopefully it goes better than this. [Puck Daddy]
- Justin Schultz is destroying the AHL. Can you imagine if he had signed in Ottawa? Cowen-Karlsson, Methot-Schultz, and a third pairing of Ceci-Weircioch? [Eye On Hockey]
- The NHLPA released $10,000 to every player over the weekend to help them pay bills. [TSN]
- Also, this is not NHL-related, but the saddest news of the day for me is finding out Topanga is engaged. I'm never going to marry an actress I had a crush on when I was younger! [Yahoo TV]