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NHL CBA Negotiations: Cautious Optimism Gives Way to Realism and Bitterness

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You can barely see the horns!
You can barely see the horns!

Earlier today, we told you that the NHLPA presented their proposal to the NHL yesterday. The proposal made sense, was reasonable, and was a good faith attempt at negotiating. Today, Gary Bettman gave the NHL's response, and let's just say... you may want to make back up plans for your entertainment dollars this winter.

Yesterday, the league said that the NHLPA's proposal was "not as bad as expected," which is understandable when your frame of reference is the NHL's original proposal. When one side of negotiation comes it with the crazy end of the spectrum, and the other answers with reasonable, you can see how one side would see that as "not that bad."

This response from the NHL gave fans a bit of hope to get through a long summer day. That hope was not only dashed today, but crushed into a fine powder, ground into a pulp, printed into paper, burned, and the ashes used to mulch Bettman's rose garden.

See the quotes, after the jump.

From Michael Grange, columnist:

Bettman: 'the sides are far apart and have different views of the world'
Bettman: 'it takes 2 sides to make a deal, 2 sides to negotiate and 2 sides to make it go bad'
Bettman cites #NBA and #NFL as context for #NHL deal
Most forthcoming Bettman has been - players proposal didn't respond to theirs & didn't acknowledge industry trends (paraphrase)
Bettman also said he's disappointed that the #NHLPA hasn't responded to contractual issues

Fehr: the players said issues are club specific and players are willing to partner to fix it
Fehr: if there are problems maybe the problem is the system?
Fehr: rather than citing #NBA and #NFL the glaring omission by Bettman was #MLB
Fehr: if there is a gap consider the where the owners started with there proposal

To sum up - The two sides are "far apart" with a month to go, the NHL is saying it takes two to tango, Bettman cites two leagues that couldn't get a deal done without a work stoppage, & accuses NHLPA of not responding and not acknowledging. Fun times.

To make matters worse, here is USA Today's Chris Johnston

Gary Bettman says he's disappointed that the league still doesn't have a full proposal from the NHLPA. Says a "wide gap" remains.

Bettman and Fehr won't meet again until next Wednesday. Time is of the essence and the commissioner made it clear there's much work to do.

Don Fehr says the reason a wide economic gulf remains between the sides is because of the NHL's original proposal.

Don Fehr says players have been advised to prepare for the worst case scenario (lockout). "You hope for the best but prepare for the worst."

Don Fehr's closing point to the media was players gave up a lot last time and aren't prepared to do so again.

Gary Bettman made it clear the NHL fully understands the NHLPA's proposal. The owners just don't like too much about it.

Gary Bettman: "Players in other industries and other sports in the last year have recognized the importance and need to make adjustments."

Emphasis mine.

The players aren't willing to give up a lot, the owners seem to be saying the need to to reach a deal. Bettman cites the other leagues, without noting that the PA already made the adjustments the other leagues are just now making, and Fehr blames the NHL's original proposal for the gap (as does anyone else with a brain). For anyone who said "calm down, lots of time, this is just how things go" when the NHL made their proposal, I hope you are all understanding now why that proposal was so dangerous.

Where We Are At

Things look darker now than they did before the PA made their proposal, if you ask me. The NHL's original proposal was a joke. The PA made their proposal, and now the league is ticked because the PA didn't even acknowledge that proposal. I wouldn't have either.

If someone starts a conversation with you about the price of your car and says, "I'll take it for free, and oh yeah, I'm going to lay it to your wife, too," you have two responses. You can either punch them in the mouth, or you can brush it off as the ramblings of a Looney Tune. The PA decided to be diplomatic, and the league made it clear they really think the PA is going to, once again, give up everything they have fought so hard to win.

I wouldn't count on the season starting on time, folks. What happens in the next couple weeks will determine how much of the season they are willing to lose.

What are all of you going to do with you spare time this fall / winter? Basketball? Football? Skiing?