Well, both sides appear equally dirty now. Bettman refuses to entertain any further discussion that doesn’t involve the players’ total capitulation to the ownership. The players via Matthieu Schneider have declared their line in the sand. The players are being screwed, the owners are being screwed, and the fan base is being treated like the proverbial red headed stepchild. With negotiations in free-fall, both sides are turning on the spin to reject or deflect blame on the other party.
Bill Daly, lead henchman to Gary Bettman offered up a very sincere(*rolls eyes*) and apologetic response to the fan base. Daly wanted us fans (or sheep with wallets as we’ve been referred to in the past.) how deeply sorry the ownership is for forcing this lockout upon us. “The National Hockey League deeply regrets having to take this action. By presenting a proposal to the NHLPA that contemplated a fair division of revenues and was responsive to Player concerns regarding the value of their contracts, we had hoped to be able to forge a long-term Collective Bargaining Agreement that would have preserved an eighty two game regular season for our fans. Unfortunately, that did not occur.
“We acknowledge and accept that there is joint responsibility in collective bargaining and, though we are profoundly disappointed that a new agreement has not been attained to this point, we remain committed to achieving an agreement that is fair for the Players and the Clubs — one that will be good for the game and our fans.”
Now, they could have played and negotiated at the same time. Had the ownership done that, they very likely could have earned a concession or two, and have had the good will of the fan base going into the season. Instead, they chose the weapon of last resort [the lockout] as a first strike weapon. They locked out the players, and immediately touched a frenzy among the fan base. When the NHLPA’s revenue share proposal that could have stabilized the league was shot down out of hand, they lost even more points. Finally, they turned from a war of words to a war of sleaze. Let’s offer a proposal on face value of 50/50. It won’t matter that we screw the NHLPA in the fine print, the fans (see above sheep with wallets) will see it’s the players and we can drag them down to our level.
Good show gentlemen, it worked. While I still believe this is an ownership created disaster, a lot of fans think I’m addled or just plan stupid. For those who of you who know me, or have met me, it can be argued I have a fetish for integrity. The players have had the moral high ground throughout this negotiation/bizarre divorce proceeding, and at no point have they surrendered it. Read the last few contract proposals from both sides, and seriously consider that the ownership is doing this now out of spite.
The only thing that is going to bring this to a conclusion is either the players folding and meeting the owner’s demands, or one of the borderline teams goes into receivership. With all the games cancelled into December, and the Winter Classic now in serious jeopardy, is it wrong of us to wonder if we’ll see another ‘Season Not Played’ on the Stanley Cup?