There's not much that can be said after Thursday's disastrous collective bargaining negotiations other than "Ugh."
We thought the negotiations had reached the height of absurdity Wednesday night when the NHL Podium signed up for a Twitter account and Steve Fehr brought the assembled media pizza. But that was outshone in horrific fashion Thursday when the upbeat mood after a Donald Fehr press conference faded 10 minutes later when he came back to say the NHL had outright rejected the NHLPA's counter-proposal and pulled it's most recent "concessions" off the table.
A bit about why that was in quotes in a moment, but first let's start with a quote from Gary Bettman on how things have gone so horribly wrong.
"What they did was put a new $100 million on the table in the hopes that it would show we wanted to get back an play. The Union response was shockingly silent and there was no reaction. The owners were besides themselves, some of them I had never seen that emotional. They said ‘we don’t know what happened but this process is over. It’s clear that the union doesn’t want to make a deal."
To steal a line from Cool Hand Luke, what we have here is a failure to communicate.
Both sides are approaching the negotiations as if they're the only ones making meaningful concessions in the process, and both are right in a way. The NHL has unquestionably moved further from their original proposal from the PA. However, it does not seem like any proposal, from the most extravagant of the PA's to the most miserly of the league's, will leave the league with any appreciable downgrade from the recently-expired CBA.
My guess is that the league expected the PA to react with great enthusiasm to their concessions in this session, including the new money on the table and the tweaks to contract length issues. The PA, however, doesn't see those as concessions - after all, they're new restrictions on the PA that didn't exist in the previous CBA and are a bonus for the league's pocketbooks no matter how they go in.
Because of this, I think the real breakthrough in these negotiations, if one ever appears, will involve people stepping outside their own expectations and trying to find a middle ground, even if that makes both sides equally unhappy. That's far, far easier said than done, especially when working with two groups who have made their careers on winning on the ice or in the boardroom.
At some point, somebody, somewhere, has to realize that this is about equal unhappiness with perceived concessions rather than an enthusiastic acceptance of their proposal.
After the jump, more on the latest version of lockout Armageddon, how much time might be left to save the season and a tour of the Texas Stars locker room.
- In case you missed Thursday's nausea-inducing drama. [Penticton Herald]
- Relive it all in real time if you have some masochistic tendancies you need to satisfy this morning. [Backhand Shelf]
- The four moderate owners all released statements expressing their disappointment in how the talks broke down. Two seem to blame Donald Fehr becoming re-engaged in the talks for the breakdown. I get that he's not the most popular guy in the room, but that seems like it's missing the key problem to me. Fehr, like Bettman, doesn't act in a vacuum. [Puck Daddy]
- How much time is left to save the season? At least one columnist thinks there are still 40 days. [CBC.ca]
- Before everything went to hell in a handbasket, NPR had a local economist on to talk about what he believes to be some of the economic inequities plaguing the NHL. I would like to remind you that the "broad, enthusiastic" fanbases in markets like Pittsburgh, Detroit, Edmonton and Ottawa have all, for one reason or another, failed to show up in large numbers at points in franchise history though. [KERA]
- On to hockey that's actually playing (shocking, I know), our friend Stephen from Hundred Degree Hockey found a new outlet for his work with this profile on how Texas Stars players Toby Petersen and Taylor Vause cope with having Type 1 diabetes. No word if Vause is teaching Petersen his epic Photoshop skills, however. [TheAHL.com]
- Brett Ritchie - still owning the rest of the OHL. [Niagra Ice Dogs]
- Before we all fell for the latest lockout ruse, the fine folks at Forbes released their latest franchise financial estimates. There might be a few issues with those numbers, and DGB explains why. [Down Goes Brown]
- Brenden Dillon takes us all on a tour of the facilities in Cedar Park.