It's August...the "Dog Days of Summer" as they say, and a complete hockey black hole. The NHL hockey regular season is still over two months away and what's worse, in limbo of starting on time or, at the very worse, at all.
The NHL wants to hump the Players Association into submission, this time only seven years later. However, the PA this time around actually has a voice and appears unified behind it. Donald Fehr has played the right cards with the media, and, by all accounts, is winning the PR battle among fans. The Union's proposal seemed logical, reasonable, and easy to implement. It even shed some optimism on the negotiations, after Gary Bettman and the League promised to lockout the players if they don't reach an agreement by September, 15th. How could it not? Especially since the Owners' proposal wasn't even on the same planet of reasonable.
Ultimately, we all know the fans are the biggest losers during any sports' labor strife. The area around the arena turns quiet on a weekday night (except for the howling winter wind down 7th Street), businesses lose dollars, ticket prices don't fall, and our favorite team's shiny new acquisitions won't be on the ice when they're supposed to be. Being a fan is depressing during labor strife.
This year's negotiations have a different tone about them than last time. Donald Fehr has all but picked the meat off the bones of the owners' arguments and has started pitting the well-to-do owners against the struggling franchise owners (I refuse to call them the poor owners because we're talking about multi-billionaires here). While I believe the players are winning and appear to be in a position of strength this time around, the owners, ultimately have the power to shut down the league. So who wins this one? Players? Owners? Certainly not the fans. I just can't see the owners sacrificing anything...ever. All I want is some hockey come October!