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"Pipe down, boss. Im only on level 2. I dont fight you until the last level. Deflex, you'll hurt yourself, Joel878 -- systemtool"
Madison, WI • United States • 41 Years Old • Male

Unfounded Optimism, II

Posted 8:33 PM ET | Comments 2
I wrote a post last month that talked about how the media was incredibly optimistic that because the NHL and NHLPA were meeting, a deal could be close at hand. At that time, I didn't buy it because the two sides were too far apart on key issues. Fast foward about 4 weeks, and it's deja vu: the NHL and NHLPA will have a meeting Wednesday morning, and various members of the media are excited that a deal could be close at hand.

Yet again, I refuse to buy into the hype - and for the same reasons as before.

The latest round of groupthink from the media has the NHLPA showing up and offering to finally take 50/50 and dropping its request for a guaranteed amount of player salaries by year, and in exchange the NHL graciously offers to drop all of its proposals for more contract restrictions. Both sides join hands and sing kumbaya, hockey fans celebrate across North America, and we start playing in mid-to-late December, just in time to get fans to drop $200 for replica NHL jerseys for Christmas.

It's not just one person singing this tune, either. Pierre LeBrun suggests it. So does Elliotte Friedman. So do a few others. These aren't Joe Schmoe hacks rolling out this idea, these are well-known, respected writers saying it - and they all start with "... if the NHLPA will just make a concession" and proceed to "the NHL is dying to give ground once the NHLPA gives a little."

Really? Haven't we seen this play out repeatedly over the last month? 2 months? More? Some famous scientist came up with a definition of insanity once ... maybe a few of you know how it goes. The fact that people are willing to buy in yet again is just astounding to me.

Perhaps there really is reason to think we're near the end. Kevin McGran reports that the two sides have either agreed to or made significant progress on 13 of 17 issues. That's nice, but some of them are superficial items that really don't fix problems that existed in the 2005 CBA; they're "feel good" things like "moving the start of free agency up" or "a joint health committee." (I won't point out problems with 2 of the items they've reached agreement on - but I'm surprised they actually did agree on something I thought should be included that no one else has mentioned.) The items they've agreed upon were (and always were) easy to deal with; the real contentious issues still involve actual dollars - the same as it's been for months now.

On the flip side, Bruce Garrioch (always considered to be a great source of info from the players' side) suggests the players may not be willing to make the move some expect and that Donald Fehr thinks this still isn't the time to be making concessions in offers. If that's true, the NHL's expectations of a concrete proposal from the NHLPA chock full of details may be dashed in the first 10 minutes of Wednesday's meeting.

If there's one constant between Fehr and Bettman, it's that neither one acts out of desperation - and arguably we're still not at the point where either one might need to be desperate. Given that there's no "deal or else" ultimatum on the table, anyone expecting a breakthrough that finally leads to the new CBA is probably going to be disappointed once more ... and sadly, some of those people will be surprised that, unlike The Who, they got fooled yet again.
Filed Under:   CBA   negotiations   NHL   NHLPA  
November 21, 2012 12:30 AM ET | Delete
I think we all want hockey back so bad that we want to believe it is going to happen. You could well be right and we will all be devastated and cheesed off even more if that is even possible. Thanks for you blog, good one.
November 22, 2012 3:10 PM ET | Delete
Good blog. Flyerdude: Exactly it. I feel as fans we assume the players want the game back as bad as us. Doesn't seem to be the case.
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