Well, both sides have got their next shell loaded in their artillery pieces, and it looks like someone will be dumb or crazy enough to fire. The NHL has lost about a billion dollars at this point (if not more.), and the both sides are a little shell shocked. The owners are in disbelief (best guess – about half of them) the players have stuck to their guns this long. The players are stunned that every proposal that actually looks reasonable AND feasible is perfunctorily shot down. (Greed or spite depending on who you talk to regarding which proposal.)
The players have the de-certification shell loaded. This shell is a toxic bomb that once fired will guarantee that no hockey will be played this year. Granted, if the players fire this off, the owners will (if they want any PR leverage) have to cancel the season immediately. The de-certification process would take weeks, even months. In the meantime however, the NHLPA could file a ‘disclaimer of interest’. If that was filed, the players could legitimately say that the NHLPA no longer represents them.
It would only get worse from there. Seven hundred and forty players all bargaining independently. This would combine the most interesting (and horribly graphic) parts of a Donnybrook scrum, a Roman Gladiatorial extravaganza, and a monkey fecal fight at your local zoo. Agents would smell blood in the water and go on a feeding frenzy. The size of each club’s legal department would increase by an order of magnitude, and the prices of your average hockey game (which are borderline ludicrous as is) would skyrocket.
The owners have the ‘let’s cancel the season’ shell, but I doubt they’ll fire that sucker off until 2013 or the players attempt to de-certify the union. The hockey-related revenue is taking a pounding due to the lack of games played, and the owners will likely fire the ‘take the Make Whole off the table’ shell. This will again broaden the gap between the NHL and the NHLPA, and will probably cause the cancellation of the remainder of the games in 2012.
So, it’s December and both sides are in the trenches, and no one wants to go into no man’s land. Ninety-seven years ago, the soldiers in World War I had a Christmas truce. That truce was a spontaneous outpouring of humanity from the soldiers on both sides. I’m hoping we get to see one of those take place in the trenches. We might see a tad more civility, and perhaps hockey played by the NHL.