In the past week, the NHL and NHLPA have met four times, all including high level negotiators. When it was announced the two sides were going to meet, the excitement and hope became palpable on social media platforms. Fans, once again, bought in to the fact that the two sides not talking to the media was "a good sign" and that progress just had to be happening. After all, if they weren't talking to the media, it meant they were talking to each other, and that has to be a good sign.
The two sides met for about 5 1/2 hours, with many reporters calling that an "exhausting" day, and showed true commitment to getting things done. In case there is any doubt, most people work and 8 hour day in the United States (I have to guess it is similar in Canada), and many folks work 10 or better. Every day. Not four days out of the past 4 months. Every day.
Five and a half hours of negotiating is less than impressive, yet we were to believe that it meant the lockout was on its way to ending, and we should all start lining up at the gates. Guess what? The league and the PA may as well issue a release that just says "Gotcha, suckers!" and be done with it.
If you want a good idea of where the negotiations are, you should likely find a way to sneak into the room. If you want the best we can have without being there, check out Russo's blog from last night. The short version? The two sides don't appear to be any closer after their "marathon" sessions this week than they were when they weren't talking at all.
When talks broke off last night, no new talks were scheduled. Elliotte Friedman has a great read about where he feels the two sides are, and brings up these complaints from the owners:
Obviously, the owners are no angels. But, among the complaints:
- He doesn't negotiate off their proposals.
- He continues to make offers that include an overall salary raise for the players in year one
- This week, he actually raised the amount of money he was looking for in revenue-sharing (to $260 million).
- Friday, he kept the owners waiting before beginning scheduled talks; the second time that's happened.
- Rightly or wrongly, even moderates among the teams question his true devotion to the players, believing he has invested nothing in the sport and will damage it, simply walking away once this is all over.
All of that can be summed up this way: Whine, whine, whine, snivel, snivel, snivel. Teacher, he won't do what I want to do! He says I said that, and I didn't say that! He tried to take my cookie! He wasn't here when I told him to be here! He's not very nice to me!
The owners still seem to think that the players are going to crack, that they are somehow magically going to fire Don Fehr, send Sidney Crosby in on his hands and knees with a white flag of surrender and take the owners' proposal as written. Know their role, as it were. The likelihood of this happening look to be about the same as the likelihood that someone is going to knock on your door this morning and tell you that you won $1 billion and then hand it to you in cash.
It's not going to happen.
You want a solution? It's not going to happen while both sides still believe they are going to get everything they want. The owners need to get over the idea that they need to crush Fehr. The players need to get over the idea that they need to exact revenge for 2004-05. Once the two sides can get to that point, they can actually start negotiating in good faith. Right now, they are both still out for blood.
And too many of you are eating out of their hands.
Yes, folks, once again far too many of you seem to have raised your hopes, only to be crushed back to reality. I fear for your sanity if this continues. Make yourselves a promise. When the media starts saying things like "this is a big day for negotiations," or "the two sides not talking to us is a good sign," or "the two sides have been meeting for hours, this is a good sign," look back at this week and know that none of it matters.
As we have told you before, there is only one thing you should get excited about - Gary Bettman and Don Fehr hosting a joint press conference to announce it is over. Until that happens, if you buy in to the excitement, you're just setting yourselves up to be hurt again.
Author's note: I'm fine being Captain Buzzkill here, but everyone needs to get off the roller coaster. I just can't imagine why fans continue to buy in to these false hopes and dreams. Call me bitter, all me a jerk, that's fine, but remember that I'm not the one who goes from excited to pissed off every three days. Buying into this cycle is no different than buying into King Insiderrp, II and his inane BS. This isn't a game, it isn't the Stanley Cup Finals. There is no reason to live and die every day with this. Just stop, people. It's the best thing for you.