Well, it looks like the latest round of “I’m OK, you’re OK, but there is still going to be a lockout” drama is playing itself out at NHL headquarters in New York. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman produced their second draft of the NHL owner’s proposal today. Bettman claims there is ”significant, meaningful step” in the direction of the players’ position. For those of you keeping track of the hockey Armageddon clock, we only have seventeen days until the current deal expires and a lockout(so claimed by Bettman at behest of the owners) begins on September 15th.
At the moment, neither Bettman or NHLPA director Don Fehr would discuss specifics of the plan. Fehr did comment that the players intend to respond to it on tomorrow. The commissioner used the phrase “counter-proposal”. I have to wonder if Bettman was taking a moment to be snarly over Fehr’s use of the term ‘alternative proposal’ when the NHLPA offered their ideas two weeks ago. Well, Bettman seems happy with this one. “We felt in order to move the process along,” Bettman said, “we tried to address the fundamental issues.” Then again, Nero seemed happy with Rome until it burned down around him. (and like Nero, Bettman has a pre-planned scapegoat for if(most likely when) the lockout occurs.)
The number of people at the negotiation were limited in order to initiate progress. Only Fehr and his top assistant,(and brother) Steve Fehr squared off with Bettman and NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly today when the proposal was issued. For the last few rounds of negotiations, NHL players have been involved in the talks. Fehr chalked up the current incarnation of the league’s presentation as “some additional thoughts on the outline of the proposal.” Fehr also labeled the NHL’s proposal as”a proposal that we intend to respond to.”
Well, the official response from Fehr will be tomorrow. Hopefully the owner’s second plan will be made fully public, and we the fans will get to digest its contents and glare at Bettman and the short-sightedness of the owners(again).