We have a drop-dead date by which either there is an agreement or the season is cancelled: January 11th. The players and the owners have been engaged in intense negotiations since New Years Eve. The two sides have exchanged more comprehensive proposals and counter-proposals in the last week then in the previous 100+ days of the lockout. According to everyone we have agreement on the big issues – most notably the split of hockey related revenue. We even have seen movement on lots of the smaller issues. Yet somehow, incredulously, we don’t have a damn deal to end this lockout.
Not only do we not have a deal, we are back to the same ridiculous theatrics that have been the hallmark of this insane work stoppage. The headlines and stories from the beat writers in NYC covering the negotiations this morning reflect the latest dramatics.
Pierre LeBrun may have summed it up best when he wrote: “The most embarrassing work stoppage in the history of pro sports has found a way once again to show it might also be the most irrational ever of its kind.”
We have seen this song and dance before. In fact we have seen it repeatedly over the last 110 days. A couple of days of negotiations that produce positive movement suddenly grind to a halt when one – or both sides – decide to have a temper tantrum. It’s Groundhog Day for the NHL lockout.
This latest installation of the NHL’s Groundhog Day has everything you would expect to find on a B rate soap opera. The NHLPA claims the owners tried to sneak a change into one of their proposals (of course it takes them a FRIGGING WEEK to notice the change). The NHL feigns ignorance of it and then promptly removes the change they tried to sneak in. The NHLPA decides against union decertification (the so-called nuclear option) and then 24 hours later decides to go ahead and have another vote authorizing decertification. And, it what might be the most ludicrous of all, the NHLPA keeps talking about “trust issues.”
Trust issues? Are you serious? Is that what this has all been reduced to? Hockey players and hockey owners, grown damn men, are talking about “trust issues”? Forget the mediators, maybe they need Dr. Phil to come in and help settle this lockout. We are talking about a multi-billion dollar negotiation not a trip to the marriage counselor.
These sides don’t have to like each other, and considering how unlikable both sides have acted – no one should like anyone involved. The two sides don’t have to trust each other – that is what the lawyers are getting paid tons of money for. The two sides, however, do have to stop acting like petulant children and make a deal.
I have always said they would wait till the 11th hour to make a deal. Well the 11th hour is here. If the season is going to be saved it is time to end this ridiculous cycle and make a deal and drop the puck.