September 13, 2012; New York, NY, USA; NHL commissioner Gary Bettman speaks during a press conference at the Crowne Plaza Times Square. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-US PRESSWIRE

LOCKOUT: Day Twenty-Three: It’s only going to get worse.


The NHL is going to continue to cancel games until each side shows an interest in discussing the core economic issues. The last few weeks of meetings have been on a wide range of secondary issues. Regrettably, neither side has decided to get down to those issues.  HRR has now become the most vile three letter word in hockey.

The problem is the HRR is a three plus billion dollar issue. At the present moment, the NHL and the NHLPA are not under much pressure right now to make concessions.  We should be expecting that the NHL will very likely be making more game cancellations as the work stoppage continues.  Personally, I’d expect to see the rest of October stricken from the season within the next seven days, and a new rollback date for Thanksgiving. Why won’t they sit down and actually start hammering out a compromise? Well, probably because we’re human beings and we have the occasional desire to be irrational.

There is also history behind it as well. In the history of the work stoppages in the NHL, labor negotiations have only been resolved early in the season once.  Why, the first side that blinks is the side that  shows weakness. Trying to defend your argument from that state of weakness puts you in a terrible position when you are the side making concessions. If the NHLPA blinks now, they might as well just sign over that quarter of their paycheck now, and expect to do it again in seven years when this CBA(if it ever gets made) is signed. The owners are only going to blink if one team files for bankruptcy protection or requests that the NHL places their franchise in receivership. (Both are bloody unlikely.)

So what is going to happen to hockey now? Most likely, the owners will push the players farther towards January 1st. The owners are betting the farm(and likely one or two franchises)that the NHLPA gives in to the pressure and starts making concessions on key issues. That is what happened with the 1994-95 season. That year, hockey started on January 20th. The way things are going presently, it is very likely that the 2012-13 season could start around that time as well.

It’s just a damn shame I feel in love with hockey for it to leave at the altar like this.

 

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