It was a day that was supposed to have a happy ending or at least one that continued to build momentum and hope with everyone involved in the NHL scene. The third straight day of negotiations after two marathon days of talks and the ball was not only rolling, but it was gathering speed and surging towards a new CBA. A deal was close, everyone could sense it. Even Donald Fehr was optimistic when addressing the media for the first time Thursday, saying there was no reason a deal couldn’t get done. They were too close on the big issues and had apparently resolved the money discrepancy between the two sides. It was all lining up and soon we’d be watching the coolest game on earth in a matter of days.
Only to have that optimism ripped from our clenched fists as we continue to scratch and claw for any sense of faith that a season can be saved. Optimism turned to sorrow instantaneously when Fehr re-appeared in front of the cameras not even five minutes later to deliver the knockout punch all hockey fans were dreading to hear.
He had heard the leagues response to the latest player’s proposal and it wasn’t good. In fact it was devastating. Fehr conveyed the news that the union had received a voice mail from the owners side, Bill Daly to be exact, informing them that the players proposal had been rejected and that there was no need for the league and it’s owners to stick around any longer on Thursday. To make matters worse, Fehr was told that the owners didn’t see a need to meet again on Friday, further cementing the feelings of lost hope that began to creep in.
You could see the defeat in the faces of Sidney Crosby, Brad Richards and Martin St. Louis who stood behind Fehr
Fehr continued on by saying he doesn’t see this issue (lockout) getting resolved in the immediate future. It was as if you could hear the cellar door slamming shut and then silence…….nothing happening but the lonesome sound of the night. No deal and no future talks planned. The great game of hockey at the NHL level appears to be on the rocks.
But could this be a negotiating tactic on behalf of the league? Fehr felt the two sides were “almost on top of one another on many issues” so how could a deal not get done. Furthermore, how could talks just break off?
When Bettman addressed the media he did his best to explain why things had turned south so quickly. According to TSN.ca, Bettman stated that the owners had offered a proposal on Wednesday, urging that a deal get done possibly that night. But when the players received the proposal they were “shockingly silet” as Bettman described it.
To make matters worse the owners have pulled the offer from the table, making it unclear where the situation goes from here.
Desertification of the union instantly came up among discussion from the hockey experts who were in New York and witnessed the carnage first hand. The players have been threatening to go that route while the league appears poised to let it happen. One comment that was made from a TSN host was that if it goes that route we could expect a long, ugly and grueling process that will surely wipe out this season and potentially impact next year as well.
Maybe the two sides will resume talks over the weekend after they’ve had a chance to clear their heads and reassess just how close they were. It’d be a shame to lose all the progress that was made over the past few days and continue to bury any hopes of having a season. The optimism is gone as it’s turned to sorrow. It could be a long, bitter and sorrow winter at the rate things are going.