Twenty four hours ago a lot of us were sure that the league had patched up their differences. The meeting of the minds had occurred and a real compromise had been reached. The players and the owners sat down, looked each other in the eye and treated each other as partners. Not opponents or adversaries, but as fellow human beings that saw the hurt being inflicted upon the league, players and fans and decided to stop all the BS and make it work.
Then sunrise came and everything fell apart.
Ron Burkle is the owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins. The sudden alliance between Burkle and star forward Sidney Crosby signaled the first complete hope that a CBA could be worked out between the waring factions. I had made a promise to a Twitter friend that if they hashed out their problems before Friday, I would honor a commitment to buy a Sidney Crosby jersey.
“The idea to put players and owners together in the same room was a refreshing idea. Commissioner Bettman should be thanked for proposing it and the Fehrs should be thanked for agreeing to it. The players came with a strong desire to get back to playing hockey. They were professional and did a good job of expressing their concerns and listening to ours. We made substantial movement on our end quickly, but unfortunately that was not met with the same level of movement from the other side. The players asked us to be patient and keep working with them. It’s not what they do and they wanted us to know they were committed. We understood and appreciated their situation. We came back with an aggressive commitment to pensions which we felt was well received. We needed a response on key items that were important to us, but we were optimistic that we were down to very few issues. I believe a deal was within reach.”
“We were therefore surprised when the Fehrs made a unilateral and “non-negotiable” decision – which is their right, to end the player/owner process that has moved us farther in two days than we moved at any time in the past months.
“I want to thank the players involved for their hard work as we tried to reach a deal.”
I hate saying this. I really do. This one is partially on the players, and partially on Jacobs who attempted to de-rail the meeting Wednesday and very likely threw in his two cents to de-rail it today. The lion share of blame can be laid at the feet of the NHLPA’s executive body. So much compromise had been made. In my opinion Fehr should have taken the issue to a vote amongst the constituency and let the chips fall where the may. That’s not my call to make though. I’m just a corporate chef that puts a bit too much into hockey these days.
Are we at square one? Oh, I hope not.
To re-invigorate the process the owners(sans Bettman AND Jacobs), and the committed players(sans Fehr) that have given so much of themselves to aid their seven hundred plus co-workers give it another go. Come to a compromise, inform the powers that be of their combined judgment, and put it to a vote of the players. If they believe the deal isn’t in their interests they’ll say no. We’ve seen a lot of players say they want to work, and they are frustrated with the stops and stars of progress.
Put it to a vote guys.