As it stands, we have three weeks before the league, under Gary Bettman enforce their plan to begin a work stoppage in the the NHL. The talks in Toronto wrapped up for another week as the parties proceed to New York to begin the next round of negotiations. NHLPA director Don Fehr continues to hold daily briefings for the media(and for us fans) to consistently remind us that under no circumstances do the players want to have a strike or see a lockout.
“From our standpoint,” offered Fehr. “We treat the possibility of a strike as a last resort. If and only if, and when and only when you get to the point where you say there is no possibility of trying to reach an agreement do you do something which tells the fans they’re not going to be able to watch hockey games.” He also reminded the assembled media that a lockout was not a choice imposed by law, but by being voluntarily willed into existance. At the moment, commissioner Gary Bettman seems all too pleased to have the will (if not the brains) to impose the third such work stoppage in his tenure at the helm. (To borrow from baseball, three strikes usually means you’re out Mr. Bettman.)
Players were there to also offer up their opinions on the looming deadline. Dion Phaneuf, captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs expressed the general opinion of the players assembled. “Right now, we’re here as players to be informed where the negotiations are. We want to play. We want a fair deal, and we want to play under a fair deal, and right now we’re working towards that with ownership.” The players do seem to keep doing that. My only argument with the players is that (in my opinion) the players are spending too much time on auxillary concerns and secondary issues when the ‘hard-core economic’ issues are what is making the lockout more likely.