Somedays, I think the pulse of the negotiations is too easily found on social media. In today’s round of talks between the NHL and the players union eighteen players were there to represent the players’ intrests. There was a slew of responses. Some wanted to know if any of the Bruins were there. (Sadly no, Bettman and Jacobs has chased a lot of them away to Europe.) Four of the owners were in attendance. Jacobs was among them. (I read that and knew, just KNEW there would be no progress made today.)
I know a lot of the fan base sees this as a 50/50 problem between the ownership and the players. I admit to not being one of these people. I have from day one believed this was an issue of ownership. Look at the scenario with as much objectivity as you can. (In these times, it’s not easy.) Seven years ago, the ownership held out long enough to destroy any chance of there being a 2004-2005 season. That shame is engraved upon Lord Stanley’s Cup. The ownership pushed for a salary cap and a plan that they thought would work for the NHL. Seven years later, they’re willing to do it again, to prove that the plan they fought for was completly wrong, and it was nothing but an organized shakedown of labor (and the players) to line their own pockets.
The players? As of today, the members of the NHLPA made their one hundreth surprise visit to a junior or pee wee rink. Is this some cheese ball PR stunt? No, these are men who were once kids who played the sport with just as much passion as they do now in the pros. Four of the Boston Bruins spent what was supposed to be opening night with pee wee teams in the Boston area. These are people who know that they will very likely have to make a horrible choice soon. That choice will be to either give in again to the rapaciousness of the ownership and sign a contract that works against their intrests or lose another season.
The players are now down three paychecks. While I doubt we’ll see any of them stocking shelves at WalMart in the immeadeate future, this hurts them as much as it hurts us. When Bettman says he cares about the fan base you mentally flip him the bird. You don’t usually do that with the players. When the players talk about how frustrated they are, they sincerly mean it. It’s not just their job. It’s part of the passion of the sport that makes them miss playing on the ice.